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In the Memory of a Pir
Fri Mar 6, 6:30 PM
In the Memory of a Pir - A Talk by
Yogesh Snehi, Ambedkar University Delhi

This presentation attempts to foreground the process of recovery of a Sufi shrine Manakpur Sharif that was left desolate for almost a year after the Partition of Punjab in 1947. Unlike other places in Punjab, the process of recovery of this shrine was gradual. One of the reasons was absence of any extant links that could help it recover completely. Predominantly a village of Muslims, its inhabitants left for Pakistan in 1947, leaving behind no trace of the tradition. Only link to the past were the Harijans of the village or Muslims from the neighbouring areas like Majri and Ropar.

In 1948, a District Muslim Welfare and Roza Committee was formed to rekindle Urs celebrations. These efforts were interrupted with the formation of Wakf Board in 1962 which took over control over the shrine and its large endowed estate. One of important defining moment to rekindle Manakpur Sharif’s past was the visit of gaddi nishin of Shah Khamosh of Hyderabad to Manakpur. Shah Khamosh was a direct disciple (murid) of Hafiz Musa. However, during the period of Sikh militancy, the shrine was again left desolate. It is only after militancy weakened that urs, qawwali and kushti become, yet again, vital components of shrine practices. Urs celebrations are now fairly large and attract gaddi shins and khakis from Kaliyar Sharif (Roorkee), Ajmer Sharif and Hyderabad.

About Yogesh Snehi:

Yogesh Snehi teaches history at the School of Liberal Studies, Ambedkar University Delhi, India.
Previously, he was a Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla (2013–15).
Snehi’s major teaching and research interests focus on Punjab and debates on popular religion
and its practice. Through a Tasveer Ghar fellowship (2010-11), he created a digital repository of
images for the ‘heidICON’ image and multimedia database of Heidelberg University. This
repository has more than five hundred images ranging from postcard-size and pocket-size
prints, CD-DVD and book covers, posters, large flex-banners, Photoshop collage, digital
photographs, etc. are in circulation at Sufi shrines in contemporary Punjab

Snehi’s recently published monograph Spatializing Popular Sufi Shrines in Punjab: Dreams,
Memories, Territoriality (2019, London & New Delhi: Routledge) uses this and other audio-
visual collections to situate saint veneration practices in the partitioned (Indian) Punjab. This
audio-visual collection captures the form and content of worship, rituals and practices at Sufi
saint shrines which present an enchanted world of non-Muslim veneration of Sufi saint in
contemporary east Punjab.