Fatehpur Sikri: how much scam and how much truth in this story?

#1 Feb 7th, 2016, 01:33
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#1
I would like to ask, what are the real local traditions regarding the white tomb of a Sufi mystic Salim Chisti?

I am asking because the description by a local guide seemed to be a scam and may have been altered.

It basically went as such:

A guide who approached us on street in Fatehpuh Sikri proceeded on showing us the courtyard, concentrating on the Tomb. He described it as „the world‘s first building built to grant wishes“, „the only building that grants three wishes rather than one“, „the place where even Obama made three wishes“ and that wishes asked there always come true (supposedly, his wishes had come true and he shown some threads around his arm to „prove“ that). After building up the hype he claimed that in order to make wish, one needs to buy locally and donate (i.e. leave at the tomb) some piece of cloth, and then also tie three knots for 3 wishes. The guide led us to a local salsesmen who had a prepared English explaination and cited extraordinary prices (for India) for these pieces of cloth. After we said we have not enough rupees, the guide insisted to lead us to an ATM. We then refused to participate in this procedure altogether. Afterwards the guide seemed unhappy and soon just led us out of Fatehpuh Sikri, ending the tour (after a visit to another salesman, supposedly „a stonemason from his family“, who was selling mass produced designs (available anywhere in India) at exorbitant prices).

Interestingly, „Lonely planet“ writes that the knots on the Tomb are tied by „childless women“ (rather than anybody who wants to make any three wishes). This would be logical, as the particular Sufi mystic is known to have made a propechy that the Emperor will have a son. Wikipedia (not a very reliable source) writes about granting wishes for those who pray and tie knots, but mentions nothing about cloth donations.

So I wonder: is it just an attempt by guide to capitalize on real local traditions (by getting a commission on the piece of cloth), or is his description of local tradition invented / heavily altered altogether in order to increase sales (if so, what is the real tradition)? Are the cloths really donated, or are they later resold?
#2 Feb 7th, 2016, 09:55
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#2
The piece of cloth is a called a chadar.

Read http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/at-fa...for-son-441150

It is a mix of truth and scam.
#3 Feb 7th, 2016, 16:28
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#3
A scam sanctioned by an emperor, so in his time, it wouldn't have been wise to call it out. But since he's long dead, it's just a scam now.
#4 Feb 8th, 2016, 10:52
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#4
My two pennies to Reost,

please engage only Government Approved Guides. It could be pricey but will help you in avoiding a lot many scams during your visit.

Please follow the rituals only which you do believe in and once followed please do not cry wolf...

You'll enjoy your trip!
#5 Feb 8th, 2016, 13:44
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Hey, I went to that big tower. They put my arms back around the old iron piller (heck of a hitching post). I should at least get my first wish! So where's my 40 dancing girls?? If it doesn't arrive soon I won't be able to enjoy them, aesthetic appreciation aside. My wife gave permission in a cheerful mood, saying something about pagul videshi. So I have been gyped in India. At my age I would settle for five gals. Anybody have the address of the tourist police for this sort of thing.?
#6 Feb 9th, 2016, 05:40
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I think these are two different things: one is if the wishes really come true (which I did not ask).

The second is how much the local history/beliefs regarding the site were presented correctly to me by the guide, and how much of it was invented (which I did ask).

On comparison, let's say you travel in Lourdes where a guide explains about Virgin Mary visions and how the diseases are cured there. Now, you may believe in that or not, depending on your religion, but the traditional Catholic belief would be conveyed well by guide.

However, if someone would say that you have to buy something from some Lourdes salesman in order for Virgin Mary to help you, this would be just a scam as it would be invented by some guide(s) and not convey any local tradition.
#7 Feb 9th, 2016, 09:02
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#7
Your understanding is correct. Buying a shawl is 100% scam created by touts. The local tradition only involves tying a thread on the tomb's screens. You certainly don't have to purchase the thread from any particular shop.
#8 Feb 9th, 2016, 14:28
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If one thread would do it imagine the favor gained by tying an entire shawl..
#9 Feb 9th, 2016, 14:33
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#9
"Chadar charana" or putting the chadar on the tomb is a tradition common to any Mazaar(tomb of a sufi saint).
But it is done only by the serious devotees and on specific days or for specific purpose. its definitely not something for a casual visitor to do.
#10 Feb 9th, 2016, 14:56
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by nayan View Post "Chadar charana" or putting the chadar on the tomb is a tradition common to any Mazaar(tomb of a sufi saint).
But it is done only by the serious devotees and on specific days or for specific purpose. its definitely not something for a casual visitor to do.
Actually, Mazaars and Dargahs are "not" and have never been "tourist" attractions. Implicit in visiting a dargah (for both muslims and hindus in India atleast) is to pay dues and ask for "mannat" (a wish). Most, if not all dargahs, are places of symbolic importance rather as architectural monuments; The tomb of Sheikh Salim Chishti in Fatehpur is rather unique that is of minor architectural interest. I know of many desis who do not believe or subscribe to miracle of "pirs", do not enter inside the sanctorum of such places.

A classic example is of Ajmersharif dargah. Zilch architectural value, all devotional value. You enter if you have faith. If you do enter Ajmersharif, you are expected to put some offering, not doing so would imply an idle curiosity. They explicitly forbid bringing cameras into the premise for cameras imply voyeurism in the minds of the keepers of the dargah.

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