Gurgaon, in the post-Diwali cracker induced pollution fog (3 days later and the air is still hardly breathable)
If you don’t know what to do on Thursday in Delhi, and you survived the tour of Old Delhi, you are ripe for Nizamuddin! Nizamuddin is a Muslim neighborhood that houses the tomb of the namesake Saint as well as other hidden tombs, gems unknown to the public in which some families even squat.
If you have a little time, spawn yourself a passage in the crowd of people who are going to pay tribute to the Saint in the Nizamuddin Dargah – Thursday evening, prelude to Friday (sacred in Islam), is equally important. And wait patiently for 7:30 PM when they start singing sufis chants. But watch out. If you go there in the middle of August and it is not raining, prepare yourself to sweat water and blood (or almost). It’s hell hot and jammed-packed, you wouldn’t believe your eyes. And all these poor people you will come across in this neighbourhood, diseases probably eradicated in Europe, a lot of dirt also. It’s good though, it puts you back in another Indian reality you may tend to forget in your posh residence! Baby Samurai managed well also... Undisturbed by the climatic and crowdy contract with the Nepalese mountains we were just coming back from.
Despite the guide's (from delhibyfoot) explanations, I did not quite understand what thatt Nizamuddin Saint was special for except that he was a Sufi. Not that I understood well either what Sufism was about. But in short:
"Sufism is less a sect Islam than a mystical way of approaching the Islamic faith. It has been defined as “mystical Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and knowledge through direct personal experience of God.”. [… ]
General Characteristics: Sufi practices have their foundation in purity of life, strict obedience to Islamic law and imitation of the Prophet. Through self-denial, careful introspection and mental struggle, Sufis hope to purify the self from all selfishness. "Little sleep, little talk, little food" are fundamental and fasting is considered one of the most important preparations for the spiritual life. […]
Rituals: Prayers, Music and "Whirling". […] In the mid-9th century some mystics introduced sessions with music and poetry recitals (sama') in Baghdad in order to reach the ecstatic experience. Narcotics were used in periods of degeneration, coffee by the “sober” mystics (first by the Shadhiliyah after 1300). […]
Mystical sessions of music and poetry called sama (or sema) were introduced in Baghdad in the mid-9th century with the purpose of achieving an ecstatic experience. Narcotics have sometimes been introduced as part of the method, but this is considered a degeneration of the practice.”