Whirling and dancing at the Urs, the artistes belonged to Lalpora village of Central Badgam district in the Valley, the home of the saint buried at Zakura.

'Dambali' artists come here each year on the Urs of the saint to invoke divine blessings and re-affirm their faith in the centuries old Sufist tradition of Kashmir.

"Holding long wooden posts in their hands, the groups of Dambali artiste go round in circles as other devotees watch them. These Dambali performers, all of them males, come from Lalpora village in Beerwah area of Badgam district," said Abdul Gani Mir, 56, who has been visiting the shrine at Zakura each year on Urs to seek the saint's blessings.

After performing at the Urs, they carry their wooden posts called 'Alums' to the nearby Hazratbal shrine and finally the ritual ends at the shrine of Sheikh Humza Makhdoom on 'Koh-e-Maran' (The mount of Serpents) in old city Srinagar," Mir said.

More than 10,000 people attended this year's Urs at Lal Bab Sahib shrine. Devotees say the saint originally belonged to Lalpora village in Badgam.

The roots of Dambali, according to local scholars, lie in the Turkish tradition of Dervish dance while is basically known as Sufi whirling.

The 13th century Persian poet, jurist, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, was the first to perform the Sufi whirling or Dervish dance after meeting his spiritual companion and guide, Shamas Tabraz.

“It has come to Kashmir from Central Asia not through land connection, but from Gujarat where Sufis used to come from Central Asia using the sea route," said scholar, MY Teng.

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