There is an Arabic term Urs, that is used by the Sufis, to mean the anniversary of the death of a saint. Literally, it means wedding, as the belief is that when a saint dies, he goes into the arms of God and becomes one with his highest ideal. Or hers. (I am of the generation that pretty much accepted sexist gender in grammar, and I’m still prone to step on even my own toes by using the masculine term, so I apologize to all of us for that.) Putting aside the question of who decides who is a saint, this is the Urs of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, who would have laughed heartily at the idea of being identified as a saint. But we, of course, his children, love him so much that perhaps we have loved him into being just that.
I should mention, here, that the Urs of a saint is usually celebrated at the tomb or burial place of that saint, and so that is where the main celebration of Pir’s Urs will happen today. But there is more to the Urs than that, which is a good thing for those of us who can’t make it to India, and there will be celebrations all over the world, in geographical locations and in the hearts of his followers. It is said that on the Urs, one’s connection with the teacher or saint is particularly accessible, and that a boon is granted to the one who requests it. I think this boon is particularly in the category of a spiritual blessing, i.e., one can’t request a million dollars and hope to get it, but it is my experience that this blessing, when it comes from the saint, is usually well worth asking for.
Blessed be to my own beloved Pir (teacher), who loved me away from self-destruction and brought me to realization. He was probably not a saint in the accepted sense, although in terms of what he did best, he definitely qualifies in my opinion, for he took me and all of his children where we most wanted to go, and he took us there in style, elegance and and with complete commitment. Perhaps it is true that this journey we are on is endless, but I myself am endlessly grateful to be on it with such an amazing traveling companion. He left us a number of years ago (seven? eight?), but as another Indian “saint” said when his students mourned his imminent death, “Nonesense! Where would I go?” (Ramana Maharshi) My beloved Pir may have moved into another office, so to speak, but he continues to be present to all who seek his presence, and to teach his students and guide his work as successor to his father, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. And in the continuation of his earthy work by his son, Pir Zia Inayat Khan, the Silsila (chain of those who pass on the teaching) remains unbroken.
Whether these concepts are symbolic or actual, they work.
He worked hard and he played hard. A good example. And before he left, he told us that if we wanted to contact him after his death, we would find him working in the planes of Light.