Funeral of Shah Jahān,
The British Library
On 15th May, 2015 I was visiting the Taj Mahal for perhaps the umpteenth time for I had lived near it as a teenager when I saw a banner. This was something new. It was a banner announcing the 360th urs of Emperor Shah Jahan.
And no wonder for I hear from Sarthak Malhotra who is researching on Taj Mahal that around a decade ago it was restarted.
Sarthak tells me that the chador ceremony starts from the tomb of Hazrat Bukhari a Sufi saint invited by Emperor Shah Jahan to take care of the empresses’grave. Then goes to a few other shrines finally coming to the Taj Mahal.
Ebba koch describes the annual urs held for Mumtaz Mahal Begum by Emperor Shah Jahan, so possibly as long as the Mughal Empire lasted, the urs of both the Emperor & Empress was celebrated & fell in disuse later.
Urs means wedding and is a term associated with the death anniversary of a Sufi for death is the Sufi’s ultimate aim : a union with with God.
I had not known that Emperor Shah Jahan was a Sufi. Later on I read that Kucha Chelan in Delhi was so named because his mureed or chela lived there.
I read in Maulvi Basheeruddin Ahmed’s book Waqiaat e Darul Hukumat Dehli that he was extremely religious and that is why he was the only one who qualified to lay the foundation stone of Jama Masjid in Delhi. He had offered all his prayers on time along with the superogatory prayers ( tahajjud) and kept all fasts.
Entry was free on the day of the urs. The lower chamber where the second set of cenotaph are housed in the Taj Mahal was open and we were allowed to go down. There were offerings of green chador, flowers and money on both the graves.
The bigger one on the left is of Emperor Shah Jahan while the smaller one in the middle is of Mumtaz Mahal Begum.
There was quite a lot of people
When I was a teenager I remember this level was open. Now I believe it’s only opened for the urs of the emperor.
This is about the only sign left that the Rauza e Munawwara was intended as a religious sphere and not a rendezvous for lovers.