Friday, December 22, 2023

Khwaja Khizr: The Mysterious Saint of Water

 Khwaja Khizr is a Sufi saint who is associated with water, wisdom, and eternal life. He is revered by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs in various regions of South Asia, especially in Pakistan and India. He is also known by other names, such as Zinda Pir, Khwaja Khidr, Khizr Elias, and Khwaja Pir.

Khawaja Khizr’s life and miracles

The date calculated from the slab states that the shrine was built in 341 AH (952 AD). However, this is a still contested fact by historians and archaeologists.

A niche for lighting earthen lamps.

The throne or gaddi of Khwaja Khizr.


     According to some traditions, Khwaja Khizr is the son of Darya Khan, a ruler of Multan in the 15th century. He was a devout Muslim who spent his life in prayer and meditation. He also performed many miracles, such as healing the sick, reviving the dead, and controlling the waters. He is said to have a green complexion and a green cloak, symbolizing his connection to water and vegetation. He is also believed to have the power of invisibility and to appear and disappear at will.

     Some scholars identify Khwaja Khizr with al-Khidr, a figure mentioned in the Quran as a righteous servant of God who possessed great knowledge and mystic insight. He was the companion and teacher of the prophet Musa (Moses), who questioned him about his seemingly unjust actions, such as sinking a ship, killing a young man, and repairing a wall. Al-Khidr explained that his actions had hidden wisdom and benefits that Musa could not comprehend. Al-Khidr is also considered to be a prophet, an angel, or a wali (friend of God) by different Islamic sects and schools of thought.

     Another possible identification of Khwaja Khizr is with Utnapishtim, a character from the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh. He was the survivor of a great flood that wiped out humanity, and he was granted immortality by the gods. He lived on an island at the mouth of the rivers, where he met Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, who sought the secret of eternal life. Utnapishtim told him the story of the flood and tested him with various challenges, but Gilgamesh failed to achieve his goal.

     Khwaja Khizr is also associated with various other figures and legends from different cultures and religions, such as Saint George, Elijah, John the Baptist, Sargis the General, and Jhulelal. He is seen as a patron of travelers, sailors, fishermen, and seekers of spiritual knowledge. He is also a protector of rivers, lakes, springs, and wells. He is believed to appear to his devotees in times of need and to grant them blessings and guidance.

     Khwaja Khizr is honored and celebrated in various ways by his followers. He has many shrines and tombs dedicated to him, such as the Khwaja Khizr Tomb in Sonipat, India, the Zinda Pir Shrine in Sukkur, Pakistan, and the Khwaja Khizr Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan. He is also commemorated on the festival of H─▒d─▒rellez, which marks the arrival of spring and the meeting of Khwaja Khizr and Elijah. On this day, people make wishes, offer prayers, and perform rituals near water sources, hoping to receive the grace and favor of Khwaja Khizr.


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Winter Solstice: The Shortest Day and the Longest Night of the Year


Celebrating the Winter Solstice: A Guide to the Festivals and Traditions Around the World

As we reach the end of the year 2023, tomorrow, on December 22 (Friday), will be the shortest day of the year. This is known as the winter solstice, and it happens when the Northern Hemisphere experiences the fewest daylight hours. While people in the southern hemisphere are gearing up for summer, those in the north are experiencing the official start of winter.


The term "solstice" comes from Latin words meaning "sun" and "to come to a stop or make stand." During the winter solstice, which falls on the first day of winter, the sun appears lower in the sky, leading to shorter days and longer nights. This year, on December 23, we'll have the longest night, with the sun rising at 6:59 AM and setting at 5:10 PM, giving us over 14 hours of darkness.


The science behind the winter solstice lies in the Earth's tilt, causing sunlight to travel through more of the atmosphere, making it weaker and colder. This tilt results in the coldest and darkest part of the year, with longer shadows and a distinctive change in the duration of daylight.


But the winter solstice is not all gloomy and bleak. It also marks a turning point, as the days will start to get longer and the nights will im start to get shorter. Many cultures and traditions celebrate the winter solstice as a symbol of rebirth, renewal, and hope. Some of the most popular festivals and rituals include:


Yule:

     A pagan festival that honors the sun god and the cycle of nature. It involves lighting candles, burning logs, exchanging gifts, and feasting.

Christmas:

      A Christian holiday that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. It involves decorating trees, hanging wreaths, singing carols, and giving presents.

Hanukkah

     A Jewish festival that celebrates the miracle of the oil that lasted for eight days in the Temple of Jerusalem. It involves lighting menorahs, playing dreidels, eating latkes, and giving gelt.

Kwanzaa

    A African-American cultural celebration that honors the principles of unity, self-determination, collective work, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. It involves lighting kinara candles, wearing colorful clothes, exchanging gifts, and performing music and dance.

Dongzhi

     A Chinese festival that marks the arrival of winter and the increase of yang energy. It involves eating tangyuan, a sweet rice ball soup, and visiting family and friends.


The winter solstice is a time to reflect on the past year, appreciate the present moment, and look forward to the future. It is also a time to enjoy the beauty and wonder of nature, and to celebrate the diversity and richness of human culture. Whether you observe the winter solstice in a religious, spiritual, or secular way, you can find meaning and joy in this special day.