In our third story of the five-part sequence on the historical past and tradition of Delhi’s city villages, we take you thru the lanes of Chirag Dilli.
In the present day, Chirag Dilli is a densely-populated, vibrant city village in South Delhi, with a large inhabitants of Brahmins, Jats, Jatavs, Valmikis, Muslims (Querishis and Nais), Punjabis, and Jains. However in case you traverse by way of the alleys of this place, you’ll uncover nuggets of historical past.
A village constructed to honour a Sufi saint
A preferred story says that Sultan Ghiyasuddin Tughlaq was constructing his metropolis Tughlakabad on the similar time that the town’s revered saint Nizamuddin Auliya was developing a baoli (at the moment Nizamuddin Baoli). The labourers most popular to work for his or her beloved pir which infuriated the Sultan. The indignant sultan forbade the employees to work for the Baoli through the day and banned the sale of oil to additional forestall them from working on the website through the evening. It was then, that one of many disciples of Auliya, Hazrat Nasiruddin, carried out a miracle and lit the lamps stuffed with solely water. Hazrat Nasiruddin acquired the title of ‘Roshan Chirag-i-Dehli’ (or the glowing lamp of Delhi). He died in 1356 and was buried within the chamber wherein he lived.
Although the village is now surrounded by a few of the most upscale colonies of South Delhi, until the Fifties, there was nothing however farmlands and dense jungles. Among the many wilderness was the shrine of Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud Chiragh-Dehlavi.
Locals say most households got here to settle right here within the early twentieth century because it was the one village with a fortification wall and gates.
“Regardless of the faith or the caste, everybody takes their sick kids to the dargah for blessings. Earlier we additionally used to take our cattle there since they had been additionally like our youngsters and babaji protected them from the evil eye. The primary milk of the cow was completely reserved for the dargah,” says Sanjeev Sehrawat, a resident of the village.
In 1729, emperor Mohammed Shah “Rangeela” constructed a fortification wall with 4 spectacular gates across the tomb, as an providing to the dargah. In response to a examine, when Ahmad Shah Abdali, the founding father of the Durrani Empire, invaded Delhi within the early 1760s, individuals from across the area took refuge contained in the Dargah partitions and by no means left. The second wave of settlers got here within the 1850s when individuals as soon as once more flocked to the fortified space for security throughout unrest related to the 1857 revolt and its aftermath. The security offered by the gates of the village is maybe its most defining characteristic. Sadly, the gates at the moment are defunct and solely a fraction of their previous glory might be seen. The western gateway has utterly disappeared and three of them survive — The Northern gateway or the Dilli Darwaza, the Southern gateway or the Kasai Darwaza, and the Japanese Gateway or the Takht Darwaza.
Residents of the village, nonetheless, bear in mind how that they had taken refuge right here through the Partition in 1947. There was a drastic improve within the inhabitants of the village after 1947. A good portion of the land was owned by Khadims (caretakers) of the Dargah, who migrated to Pakistan and had been changed by the Jat group.
In recent times, the city village has attracted small-scale industries and migrant labourers looking for low-cost lodging within the metropolis. The village has additionally emerged because the “momo hub”; the lanes are crowded with momo “factories” the place the favored avenue meals is packed and distributed amongst native distributors who promote them within the close by markets.
Chirag Dilli’s historical past by way of the lens of weddings
As we spoke to locals to know extra concerning the historical past of this village, we realised that the lives and rhythms of the individuals of Chirag Dilli may be understood by way of tales of one of the vital necessary days of their lives: the marriage.
One being requested concerning the previous of their historic village, a girl remarked, “Itihas ka hume itna nahi pata beti. Shaadi kay baad se ye gaon hello hamara sab hai (We don’t know a lot about historical past, however this village has been my world after my marriage ceremony).”
Sixty-eight-year-old Shanti, reminiscing about her days as a brand new bride within the village, mentioned: “As of late you may gown up everytime you need and eat good meals in a restaurant every single day. We had restricted means again within the day. Overlook dressing up, we’d take a shower on the village nicely solely as soon as in a few days. We’d simply shortly pour a bucket of water on ourselves (whereas totally dressed) and that was it. Now think about being the bride and being bathed in turmeric and milk. It was one thing.”
The ladies narrated how households pooled important meals gadgets corresponding to wheat, ghee and sugar. Ladies would sit collectively virtually a month upfront and begin grinding the wheat into flour.
One other resident, Manjula remarked, “Nobody household would have the meals to feed the baraat (marriage ceremony procession). A marriage wouldn’t be hosted by only a household, it will be hosted by the whole clan. I bear in mind we’d sing folks songs and work on the chakkis (flour mill). A few of us would make and pack ladoos for shagun (ceremony).”
Manjula recalled that in her time brides had no say in selecting their life companion. Lots of them would get married at as younger as 8–12 years outdated. She provides “ We’d simply sit in our lengthy veil and never even know who’s current on the marriage ceremony. The groom and his household would take a look at the bride’s ft to see if she was truthful or not. However today children say hello-hey, hug and kiss one another earlier than weddings”.
Speaking about at present’s children, the ladies arrived on the consensus that “fashionable love marriages” are higher for ladies since they’ve the liberty to decide on the fitting life companion. Nonetheless, they specific their concern over the “breaking down” of the “conventional methods” as increasingly children are marrying outdoors their caste. The concept of caste endogamy continues to sway over most residents of city villages.
Celebrating within the instances of turmoil
Shami Sultan, one other resident, advised us how he met his spouse after the Indo-Pak warfare in 1965. He mentioned, “Every little thing was unclear when my household met the bride’s household. The Battle lasted until September of 1965, with disappointment within the air; I used to be merely 21. The then prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, imposed meals rationing, which prohibited us from internet hosting large weddings and gatherings. His thought was to convey the financial system again to normalcy, however I simply needed to get married. The mourning and disappointment within the ambiance anyway held us again and ensured a muted celebration, and authorities prohibitions pushed us additional.”
Sultan recalled, “I had a authorities discover written on my card concerning the management and regulation. However I couldn’t management it and had 100 individuals attend my marriage ceremony. Meals was restricted and as an alternative of rice phirni, my marriage ceremony had rawa phirni (semolina pudding), pulao, and kaliya. Each visitor was served a paan (betel nut) on the finish”.
Together with the village, its marriage ceremony traditions, ladies’s selections, and their garments, meals, and tradition have additionally developed over time. The fixed interplay of rural and concrete influences is seen even in essentially the most intimate areas of individuals’s lives. The tussle between a chocolate cake and a batasha is simply as vigorous because the wrestle of the people attempting to embrace fashionable guidelines of courtship and on the similar time please the time-honoured code of conduct round caste, faith and gender.
The one unbroken thread that binds the group (particularly its older members) is their sense of loss; the lack of their farmlands, villages, and their lifestyle. As Sehrawat places it: “ Har cheez ke liye paisa lagta hai. Pehle milkar kar lete the. Ab kaun ghar kay bane ladoo-batashe khayega ( Every little thing prices cash now. Earlier we used to handle the marriage preparations collectively. Who will eat selfmade sweets now?)”