The mosque in question, known as the Mughal Mosque, is situated within the Qutub Complex but lies outside the Qutub enclosure.
Basant, whose Panchami fell on 22 January, is more than an equivalent of the English spring, of which poet sang: “The cock is crowing, the stream is flowing” to announce the end of freezing winter. Basant comes with a different hue that changes the barren, brown north Indian landscape into a great flowering of nature. What happens in the urban garden is but a small patch on the wide-scale transformation in the countryside. You have to visit the villages to see what Basant really means, with Sarson-ka-saag and Makki-ki-roti as the favourite meal.
Hari Singh Tomar settled down in Inderpuri, Delhi, in old age and regretted that he couldn’t enjoy the pleasure of walking through mustard fields at Basant time. The only consolation he had was to gaze at the patches of sarson (mustard) plants growing across the road in Pusa Institute. The thrill that sight sometimes gave him was probably more than what Wordsworth got while watching daffodils “fluttering and dancing in the breeze” even as he “wandered lonely as cloud”.
You needed someone like poet Maikash Akbarabadi to fully appreciate these sentiments because he was the one who used to organise a Basant Mela near the Taj Mahal every year to celebrate the birthday of Nazir Akbarabadi (1740-1830) at which Basant and Nazir’s down-to-earth Kalaam of the common people was the theme of every participating shair. And after that, listening to the dancing girls singing nostalgic songs, one of which still lingers in memory: “Yuun hastron ke daagh mohabbat mein dho diye/ Khud dil se dil ki baat kahi aur ro liye”. Wonder where that pretty girl in a yellow sari, who sang it in 1958, is now? If she is around, she must be a grandmother. But dancing girls seldom live that long though Basant is timeless.
Most people harbour an ingrained sense of respect when they come across an image or deity of god. Spotting a calendar with an image of a god or goddess hung up in a shop, many instinctively bow their heads. Crossing a temple, gurudwara, mosque or church, it’s common for people to at least briefly bow their heads if not pay obeisance. A colleague was confronted with similar sentiments when he visited the Shore Temple of Mahabalipuram.
Constructed by the Pallavas, the salty and moisture-laden wind from the sea has eroded the rocks so much that the images of gods are barely recognisable. Traditionally, no worshipping is done at the temple, where there are images of Shiva and Parvati. Even the guides here tell the tourists there is no need to take off one’s shoes. However, the colleague overheard a young girl insisting this place had sanctity and not removing shoes would be ominous. Soon one found everyone, even foreigners removing their shoes before entering the structure. It is true that one can enter many ancient places of worship, where no prayers are offered, wearing shoes. But many people maintain their beliefs and insist on removing shoes at even those spots.
Overheard in the Metro: Everything is on remote control ~ television, air-conditioner, car doors, space vehicles and now driverless Metro!
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Contributed by: R V Smith, Divya Giri, Abhijeet Anand, Rakesh Kumar and Asha Ramachandran