We are all familiar with the way chadars, sweets, and flowers are offered to the Almighty at shrines for the fulfillment of vows. Among the stories of offerings and prayers being answered in return, a shrine in Khairpur’s village of Bibarlo, where the tradition of offering living male donkeys is prevalent, stands out.
In the tomb of Pir Syed Rajan Qattaar Jahania, live male donkeys are offered to secure the saint’s blessings in the mannat [wish] that is offered to him. Local mythology suggests that the saint loved riding the animal in his lifetime, therefore the story behind the offering.
Offerings are performed at the shrine in many forms, but offering live donkeys must be made if one wishes to fulfill their vow of devotion to the saint. Devotees who cannot afford to buy a full-fledged donkey can also offer comparatively inexpensive small donkeys, as per tradition.
According to Atif Shah Jahania, the caretaker of the shrine, Pir Syed Rajan Qattaar Jahania was from the Makhdoom Jahania family of Uch Sharif ad migrated to Sindh in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
When once sent a vehicle by his followers to receive him, he refused to step in and asked for a ride on a donkey instead. On longer journeys, he often used to take rides on a donkey. Devotees to this date, offer a decorated live male donkey at the tomb of Pir Rajan Qattar Jahania, popularly called ‘Rajan Mast’ after their mannats [wishes] are fulfilled.
A living donkey in exchange for a male child
A devotee in an interview by Geo News narrated his experience of following the Rajan Mast. “My niece was finding struggle in conceiving a child,” he shared. “After I asked her to pray at the Rajan Mast, she was blessed with a baby boy. We have come here to offer flowers, sweets, and a donkey as our wish is fulfilled.”
In his lifetime, the saint asked his followers to gift him donkeys in return for divine favor. While he used the donkeys for riding, he often used to pluck the hair of those donkeys and gift them to his followers as that would bless them with a baby boy.
The donkeys are offered at the shrine are reportedly sold further. It is believed that the tradition of offering male donkeys is particularly popular among followers who want a male child in their house.
Even though its superstitious origins are beyond debate, the desire for a male child continues to be widespread, leading people to go to extreme measures to ensure they have a boy.
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