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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Religions, Culture, Stereotyping: Is he a Hindu or Muslim?


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Saffron is generally associated with the Hinduism these days but it is the traditional colour of Muslim Sufis as well, at least in the Indian sub-continent.

Here is a Muslim Baba in the photograph on the left. I surmise that this is the pose in the state of 'haal' [when a man gets spiritually possessed due to devotion], at the shrine of 17th century Sufi Saint in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Or he may just be a mendicant or wandering Sufi. The shrine of Shah Latif Bari Qadri, known as Bari Imam, during the five-day annual Urs, attracts thousands of devotees from all over the Pakistan and even outside.

Unfortunately, colours have also been associated with religions. I have no photographs of an 'Azaad' sufis, whom I have seen at many hospices and shrines. With their long conical 'topis' and style attracted me from childhood. Lately I haven't seen them.

At an Urs [Sufi saint's anniversary] sometime ago I saw a group of 'Azaads' standing near the 'mehfil-e-Qul'. They would loudly say 'Ya Haq' but before I could get my camera, they had vanished.