25th June 2012
The beginning of the day this morning was not one of the lightest. The gray sky above Berlin met with the news of the fire of Dastgeer Sahib, a Sufi shrine in the centre of Srinagar, the summer capital of kashmir.
The shrine is one of the symbolic landmarks of the city: a massive structure made of carved wood, with tall spires, papier mache decoration, large chandeliers hanging over the prayer room.
In the complicated tale of Kashmiri syncretism, Dastgeer Sahib is a symbol of tolerance and coexistence: an emblematic trait of Sufism in general and a point of pride in the specific Kashmiri declination.
In a country plagued by inter-religious conflict, the coincidence of the fire with the beginning of a large and highly contested Hindu pilgrimage has a sinister taste. No conspiracy theory, the two events are totally unrelated: it is just a cynical serendipity.
The fire of Dastgeer Sahib is one of those news that doesn’t quite make it to the global news. Still I thought, that Dastgeer Sahib would deserve a little epitaph, a little thought - even just in passing.