Did you know that there is another dargah near the world-famous Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai? By near, I mean as the crow flies or perhaps in this case as a seagull flies, for it is across the sea at Mahalaxmi to Worli. This dargah is known as the Worli Dargah or the dargah-with-the-blue-dome. Of course, if you are aware of this dargah’s existence then you would know that its full and official name is Saint Ma Hajiani Dargah.
I didn’t know any of this. I can’t even say that I have seen the blue dome of the Worli dargah. In fact, I didn’t even know it existed till a friend told me about it. And that too, when she first mentioned it, I thought she was talking about the Haji Ali Dargah. As did the cab driver taking us there resulting in both of us being corrected by my friend and us, in turn, being reprimanded by the cab driver for not knowing the right name of the dargah or giving him the right directions.
Anyway, we reached the entrance gate leading to the Saint Ma Hajiani Dargah only to be confronted by a suspicious and surly watchman whose inquiring look made me feel like a school girl. When I mentioned the dargah he only pointed the way and motioned us in with a ‘finger-on-the-lips’ gesture.
We followed the direction pointed to us, went past a mosque on one side and some living quarters on the other side and came out into a little clearing with these steps going up.
The steps led to a small room with more stairs to climb. There was a little plaque on the side which gave the background of the dargah. It said:
“This mausoleum was built of the grave of Saint-Ma-Hajiani in the year 1908 as a token of devotion & reverence to glorify her pious name and sacred memory by Haji Ismail Hasham, ship owner and pioneer of Indian shipping, who died on 20th September 1912 and was buried according to his last wishes in the west side grave in this tomb.”
What the plaque does not mention and which we found out later from the caretaker at the dargah was that Haji Ismail was Ma Hajiani’s son !
The second flight of steps opens into a small courtyard with the dargah at one end. Going by one portion of the Dargah supported by bamboo poles, there is either some repair work happening there or it the poles are for additional support. The Dargah is not very large and the dome, which is not the traditional round but rather an elongated dome, seems rather ill-proportioned. And yet the overall effect is quite pleasing as it creates an intimate and cosy feeling. It also helps that there is no one else there.
Inside the dargah, the smell of incense is overpowering, but not offensive. There are about 2-3 people praying quietly. There are three graves inside — Ma Hajiani’s, Ismail Hasham’s and his son’s. One of the windows has bunches of red and green bangles tied on the grills, leaving me quite intrigued.
Once outside, I ask the caretaker about the significance of the bangles. He had this to say:
Over the years, the Saint Ma Hajiani Dargah has become a draw for unmarried and childless women for they believe that the Saint helps their wishes to come true. Those desirous of getting married offer red bangles and those wanting children offer green bangles.
The caretaker wanted to know which of the wishes I had come to seek and was quite disappointed to find that it was curiosity that had brought me to the dargah. After chatting with him for some time and promising to visit the dargah again, we leave.
We are just in time as a large group of some 20-odd young women come in. As they pass me by, I can’t help trying to guess who wanted to get married and who wanted a child !
Did you know of this dargah before? Have you visited it?
Note: Photography is not permitted inside the dargah at all. While the caretaker objected to my friend’s camera, he did not mind my phone camera and allowed me to take pictures of the exterior. Go figure !