Lucknow: The Holi celebrations at Mathura and Kashi are well-known to the world, but there is a shrine of Sufi Saint Haji Waris Ali Shah which is also known as Dewa Sharif in Barabanki district of Uttar Pradesh, where people from across the country, irrespective of their faith, come together to play Holi.
The white campus of Dewa Sharif shrine turned yellow, green, pink as thousands of people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, gathered to celebrate Holi. The exact time since when Holi is celebrated at Dewa Sharif is still not clear, but the myriad colours of Holi continue to be showered on this shrine every year on the festival.
According to Sufi saint Ghani Shah, who stays at the Dargah, Haji Waris Ali Shah used to believe that every religion is based on the feeling of love and devotion. “Sarkar (Waris Ali Shah) started this tradition of playing Holi here with members from all the communities and since then it has been a tradition.”
Waris Ali Shah is revered by Hindus and Muslims alike. People from all communities visit here and on any given day one can find as many Hindus and Sikhs as Muslims visiting this shrine to seek blessings.
Thousands of people including Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Holi at Dewa Sharif.(Image courtesy: News18)
Haji Waris Ali Shah was born in early 19th century in Dewa in a family of Hussaini Syeds. The father of Waris Ali Shah, Qurban Ali Shah too was a Sufi saint. Waris Ali Shah was the founder of the Warsi order of Sufism. He travelled widely and admitted people to his spiritual Warsi order.
Waris Ali accepted millions of people belonging to all faith into his commune. Thousands of Hindus, including Sadhus and Fakirs of different Panthas, paid homage to him and respected his Order. He always welcomed them with these words: “You and I are the same.” He did not ask non-Muslims to abjure their religion; on the contrary, he advised them to follow it with greater zeal and sincerity.
People from all communities gathered at Dewa Sharif to celebrate Holi. (Image courtesy: News18)
He visited Mecca for pilgrimage several times in his life span and during his general travels in Europe, Sarkar visited the Sultan of Turkey and Bismarck of Berlin. He travelled to England also had an audience with Queen Victoria.