In Illustrations: A Night at Urs E Khusravi

I drew as I saw the night unfolding with music, poetry and love on the 719th annual Urs (death anniversary) of the beloved poet Hazrat Amir Khusrau at the Sufi shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Delhi.

The celebrations began on May 7 and ended on May 11.

In Arabic, Urs means wedding, and according to the Sufi tradition, it represents the union between the lover and the beloved, God. It was my first time visiting his annual Urs at the Sufi shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.

I visited the Dargah Sharif on the night of qawwali, on May 10. The aura of the night was inexpressible.

Throughout the night and up until dawn, I hovered around different corners of the shrine. I observed people and drew them. I saw people from different classes, caste, gender and faiths come together to commemorate a poet’s Urs, where poetry, love and music surpassed everything else.

Khusrau (1253-1325) was credited by some historians with inventing the sitar and the tabla.

He was also a fine poet, with compositions both in the high Persian of the court and in the rough Hindi of the North Indian countryside.

He is also said to have invented qawwali, a unique style of singing popularised in the West by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. And he introduced the ghazal poetry form to India.

He was probably a pioneer too in the art of the poem-riddle, called paheli. Some say he invented the khayal and tarana styles of singing. If true he laid the foundations of Hindustani music, Counterpunch said in a piece on the great poet.


All illustrations by Pariplab Chakraborty.