Monday, 5 August 2013

The Djinns of Delhi

We joined a tour group last Thursday, that was leading a walk around the Feroz Shah Kotla. The fortress was built by Feroz Shah, who I believe formed the 5th "city" of Delhi in the mid 1300s. Crumbling parts of the fort still exist today, along with a tower that dates back to the third century BC. Today however, the fort is so much more than a historical landmark. Legend holds that the fort is full of the good "Djinns" (angels), and is believed to be a very spiritual and holy place by most people in Delhi. Since part of the fortress is an open air mosque, Muslims from all over the city flock to the fortress to light candles for the Djinns and conduct their Thursday prayers. The fortress is full of altars, scattered with candles, coins, rose petals, and letters from people expressing their wishes & prayers - it was incredible to see!

I encountered my own "good djinns" at the Jama Masjid on Sunday evening. We arrived close to iftaar, when Muslims break fast at sunset, and sat down to immerse ourselves in the festivities. As we sat, people came over to our group, bringing us dates, rice, fruit, and water - even though none of us were fasting. I was deeply touched by the generosity and humility of strangers who shared their food with us; people who have much less wealth than we do, but certainly have bigger hearts than we do, and are so immersed in the spirit of giving. We ended up giving most of our food away to street children who probably needed a meal more than we did, but it was an emotional, inspiring and overwhelming moment nonetheless, and one that reminded me how far a small act of kindness can go.

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