For the past over 50 years, an elderly man Saderbal area of Srinagar has never missed any congregational prayers at Dargah Hazratbal here, which houses the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Abdul Gaffar Akhoon in his 80’s, was among the thousands of devotees, who thronged Dargah Hazratbal shrine today to attend the congregational prayers on Friday following Shab-e-Mehraj.
Akhoon, who walks with the support of a walking stick, while talking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that it has been over 50 years now since he is participating in the congregational prayers at Dargah.
“It gives a sigh of relief whenever I visit here and offer prayers,” he said, adding that there was a time when the lawns and shrine used to remain jam-packed with the devotees on special occasions like today, but today, such flow of devotees is not visible anywhere.
“I always remain in a ready mode to throng Dargah Hazratbal, especially on the special occasions. I always find peace here. I have never missed Eid and other congregational prayers here except during Covid times,” he said.
However, Akhoon has been finding it difficult to throng Dargah Hazratbal for the past three years as he has met with an accident three years ago, due to which his left leg has suffered injuries.
“My health is not good now and after the accident, I find it very difficult to attend the prayers here. However, my friend is carrying me on his two-wheeler and thus helps me to participate in the congregational prayers here,” he said.
“Till I am alive, I would always prefer to attend congregational prayers at Dargah Hazratbal,” he said.
Meanwhile, thousands of devotees from different parts of the Valley thronged Dargah Hazratbal today to participate in the congregational Friday prayers today on the eve of Friday following Mehraj-ul-Aalam.
The holy relic was displayed after every prayer today during which emotional scenes were witnessed at the shrine as the people including men, women, elderly and children were seen raising their hands and seeking mercy from Almighty Allah.
Special arrangements were made by police and civil administration for the smooth observance of the day at Hazratbal shrine.
An official told KNO that a record 2.5 lakh number of people thronged the shrine throughout the day. “1.5 lakh devotees participated in the congregational Friday prayers,” he said.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Rakesh Balwal told KNO that special arrangements were made today for the smooth passage of the traffic movement and also for the congregational prayers.
“The parking facility was made available for the devotees at Kashmir University today while a route plan was also ensured today from all the sides to ensure smooth passage to the vehicular movement,” he said.
“A record number of more than 1,50,000 devotees paid obeisance in Friday afternoon prayers at Hazratbal Dargah on occasion of ‘Friday following Shab-e-Meraj’. Foolproof exhaustive control control & traffic regulations were in place,” Srinagar Police tweeted. Meanwhile, the role of police was praised over the loudspeakers of the shrine. The police had set up refreshment stalls where a large number of people were seen taking refreshments on the occasion—(KNO)