SALEM: There is a quaint symbol of ‘eternal love’ in the steel town of Salem that not many people may know about.
It is the tomb designed like a ‘Dargah’ of Ghurubibi in Ammapet area in Salem, erected in memory of the Muslim woman, whom the one and only ‘English Zamindar’ of Salem under the British rule in the 19th century had married after a love relationship blossomed with her.
George Fredrick Fisher, the local Zamindar of Salem during 1805-1867 was a benevolent soul, who after his wife’s death had fallen in love with this Muslim woman Ghurubibi and married her. It stays in Salem’s historical memory as a ‘unique love story, transcending religion and creed and symbolizing communal harmony’, according to Salem History Society general secretary J Barnabas.
George was so fond of his lady love and treated her with great esteem and respect that before he died he told his well wishers that Ghurubibi should face no hurdles to live her life as per the tenets of Islam and that after her death a ‘dargah’ in her memory should be built where her mortal remains was interred.
The Englishman had even bequeathed a piece of land for the purpose and his wish was fulfilled after Ghurubibi’s demise, as a symbol of ‘divine love’ between the two. Memories of this ‘love story’ come alive to a small group of people on April 28 every year, when Ghurubibi’s death anniversary is observed by members of the ‘Ghurubibi Makkan Trust’ which manages and maintains this ‘Dargah’.
In line with the time-honoured practice every year, Sufi saints from Andhra Pradesh are invited to offer special prayers at Ghurubibi’s ‘Dargah’, even as members of the Trust pay tributes by placing the customary green shawl over the tomb, apply sandal paste and offer flowers.
On Sunday, the ‘Dargah’ reverberated again to the soothing chants of a group of Sufi saints from Andhra Pradesh after the trust members including Shahidha, Salman, Sadhiq and Prem Nazir had done their part in paying tributes to the memory of the venerable Englishman’s ladylove....