To truly understand and experience Kashmir, Kashmiris and the Kashmiri culture, one need not head further than the foot stall of the Sufi shrines. The devotion exemplified by the throngs of people one might observe, provide a perfect example to the bystander about how important their history is to Kashmiri people. It is their guiding light, even today.
As many of the readers will be aware, one of the most important Sufi shrines in Kashmir, one of “The Big Three” or so to say, is the Shrine of Sheikh Noor-Uddin Noorani in the tiny village of Chrar, in the rocky plateaus of Budgam. Here in a glistering white complex, lies the mausoleum of a legendary poet, who also used the alias of Nund Resh in his ‘shruiks’. A highly accomplished poet of the Kashmiri language, The Sufi mystic would foster an era of spiritual upheaval and bring to Kashmir a rise of saints like Sheikh Hamza Makhdoomi and Baba Dawood Khaki. The saints followed the spiritual patronage of Nund Resh himself and marked the beginning of the rise of a new Sufi order or silsila which would take the name of Noorani’s pupil as the ‘Makhdoomi silsila’, a Sufi order that thrives to this day.The shrines, also serve as community centers forming a sort of communal bond between the people of a neighborhood or a village.
The abundance of these shrines is astoundingly large. Nearly every village and town has one, although many have crumbled from neglect. On a personal level, I share a deep connection to shrines and mysticism. My grandfather, great-grandfather and great-great-grandfather were all spiritual healers or pirs, as they are known locally. Our ancestral village still has a shrine which to this day is looked after by our family.
In my personal opinion, Sufi shrines form the heart of Kashmir and are an essential and indispensable part of its culture and are justification for Kashmir’s’ title as ‘Pir Vaer’.
Syed Ahmed Ibaad Bukhari