Ahead of annual fair, Urmila Matondkar prays at famed Mahim Dargah

Mumbai: Two days before the annual fair, Shiv Sena leader and Bollywood actress Urmila Matondkar visited and prayed at the famed Mahim Dargah on Thursday afternoon.

The actress, along with her actor husband Mohsin Akhtar Mir arrived at the 590-year old mausoleum where the Muslim saint, Makhdoom Ali Mahimi Shafi’I is buried.

A renowned Islamic scholar noted for his humanist and progressive views, Makhdoom Baba – as he is revered by all communities – was the brother-in-law of Gujarat’s Sultan Ahmed Shah, having married his sister, but lived in Mahim, which was one of the 7 big and small isles that made up modern-day Mumbai.

After their arrival, Urmila and Mir prayed at the dargah with their heads covered and later visited a Covid-19 vaccination camp currently underway at the venue.

“This was their first visit to the Mahim Dargah. They were taken around by our volunteers and acquainted with the history and other details of this historic mausoleum. Later, we felicitated the celeb couple as we do to all VIPs who grace this place,” Mahim Dargah Managing Trustee Suhail Lokhandwala told IANS.

He said the couple arrived just two days before the annual Mahim Dargah Mela (fair), now in its 120th year, starts on Saturday, and even gave a social message to the masses.

Urmila said: “I am very happy to come to the Dargah today. I shall also visit the fair this year. I appeal to all people to please get themselves vaccinated against the coronavirus. I have been through it (infection), I fervently urge all people to get the inoculation.”

“Visited the free Covid-19 vaccination camp at Mahim Dargah. Very impressed with the idea of doing the camp at a pious place like the Dargah. Also visited Pir Makhdoom Saheb Dargah. Appeal to (all) to get vaccinated,” the actress later tweeted, sharing photos of her trip.

On 13th Shawwal in the Islamic calendar, Makhdoom Baba’s annual 10-day long ‘urs’ (feast) is celebrated with lakhs of devotees coming here from India and abroad, though the celebrations have been curtailed in the past couple of years owing to the pandemic.

The highlight of the ‘urs’ is a procession of thousands of devotees that starts from the Mahim Police Station – believed to be the site of his home nearly 7 centuries ago.

Two officers from all the police stations in Mumbai join the procession and their representative offers the first ‘chadar’ to the saint on the opening day of the ‘urs’.

Incidentally, in a room near the office of the Mahim Police Station’s Senior Inspector is a steel cupboard where Makhdoom Baba’s belongings like a pair of sandals, chair and a handwritten copy of Holy Quran, considered an artistic masterpiece, are preserved and opened for public viewing during the ‘urs’.