Saturday, October 11, 2008

Djinns and the mosque: Legends and nostalgia

The tales of Djinns are fascinating and of course scary at the same time. In my childhood I heard numerous tales about the djinns (or jinns) and their exploits.

The photo shows the Jizyagarhi mosque in Kakori, 14 km fom Lucknow. We heard umpteen stories of the djinns living in this ancient mosque. Relatives would tell that when they entered the mosque there would be no soul but when they started praying, suddenly dozens of persons in spotless white dress would appear in the front, side and back rows. Or that when sat for ablutions before namaz, a hand would bring the tumbler full of water.

These are just some of the tales. But when I walk past the old palaces, kothis, mosques and the particular trees in my hometown, a chill still runs down my spine. I don't know if the djinns any longer come to study in the local madarsa, as per the old legends. I didn't ask anybody either but I'm sure the stories won't have vanished. Legends just keep growing.

Stories heard in the childhood have a great impact on one's mind. The friendly jinns who loved to eat coal and bones and in return gave away 'asharfis' and also the ones who fell in love with beautiful girls who never got married as they got possessed.

There were also the 'shararti jinns' who never did any harm except frightening elderly women by extending their hand to say, a distance of 50 feet, or other mischiefs. On my recent visit to the town, I did venture towards the mosque but didn't step inside. It was not that I feared that a hand would come from nowhere to pat me and ask to leave but I walked away after taking a photograph. More about djinns in later posts.