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June 19, 2012

Visitors pay homage to Shah Jahan at death anniversary in Agra

     Agra: Thousands of visitors congregated at the Taj Mahal in Agra to participate in the concluding day of 357th Urs (death anniversary) of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The solemn occasion was observed over a period of three days. People paid homage at the graves of Shah Jahan and his wife Mumtaz, in whose memory the Taj Mahal was built. Senior Muslim clerics said the presentation of the seven-coloured cloth signified peace and harmony, as followers from all religions got together to make the special cloth. "Every year, we offer this cloth, and this year too, it has happened. People from all communities and religions, including Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians have all made this and presented the special cloth. So, I pray that the message of peace and brotherhood is spread during this festival. I am generally given the cloth by followers, I get it stitched and I present the cloth with the blessings of all the supporters and I am glad to get this opportunity every time," said Tahiruddin Tahir, President Of Khuddam-E-Roja Committee. According to the customs, Urs marks the death anniversary of a person. Disciples follow traditions, which are exactly the same when the person was alive. "The meaning of Urs is such that whenever an elderly person passes away, his supporters observe this day in his memory and follow customs just like they would when he was alive," said Abdul, a follower. A record 450-metre 'saptrangi chadar' (seven-coloured cloth) was offered at the graves as part of a ritual, and sandalwood powder was sprinkled on the graves. Some tourists who came down to Agra with the purpose to view the Taj Mahal said that the monument was overcrowded and security arrangements were not in place. "I think the crowd here is not being controlled properly, everything is mismanaged. As a result, many people who came to genuinely see the structure have missed out on that. So, we have not been able to enjoy properly," said Vikas Sinha, a visitor. There is some ambiguity about the year of Shah Jahan's death as the Uttar Pradesh government website mentions 1666 as the year Shah Jahan died, which would make this his 356th death anniversary. However, the Urs organising committee has observed it as the 357th Urs.
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