chapter  XVIII
2 Pages

THE FESTIVAL OF THE SAINT ZINDA SHĀH MADĀR

BY one account His Excellency Shah Badiu-d~din or Zinda Shah Madar; Ghazi Miyan, was a converted Jew, born at Aleppo, A.D. 1050, who is said to have died at Makanpur, 40 miles from Cawnpore in that District of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. He is called Zinda, ' the living one \ because he is supposed to be still alive, the Prophet having given him the power of living without breath. He used to· wear black clothes, and neither married nor had congress with women. His shrine is visited by crowds of pilgrims, both Hindus and Musalmans. Women are excluded from his shrine because it is believed that any woman entering is immediately seized with violent internal pains, as if her whole body were immersed in flames of fire. As in the case of Pir-i-dastagir, people make vows to him and in his name put belts (baddhi) of gold and silver round the necks of their children. He is supposed to have died on the seventeenth day of the fifth month, Jamadiu-1-awwal, and some people on that day, others on its eve, make dishes of wheaten flour, meat cakes (satri), and other food, put seventeen lamps on it and then put the belt on the child. 1

Some perform the rite of fire-walking in the name of the Saint. This is known as Dhammal kiidna, dhammal meaning 'the place of virtuous conduct' (dharma), and kudna, 'to leap'. They kindle a large fire, send for the Tabaqati, or Faqirs of this Order, and give them.a present. The Faqirs recite the Fatiha, sprinkle sandalwood in the fire, and then the chief of the band leads the way by jumping into it, calling out, 'Dam Madar ! Dam Marlar!' 'the breath of l\fadar ', this, as among the Pcrsians,2 being supposed to be a protective

against the flames, the bite of a snake, or the sting of a scorpion. Then the rest follow him also shouting ' Dam Madar ! ', and tread out the fire. Their feet are washed with milk and water and they are found to have received no injury.