New Delhi: On the eve of Eid-al-Adha, several quarters of the old part of the capital were lit up with fairy lights, people in brightly-clad clothes thronged the markets lining the snaking lanes of Purani Dilli and the smells of spices and saffron with sweetened ghee mingled freely to lure in hungry children, men, and women. Vestiges of a royal past - forts, tombs, mosques, arches - lay carelessly around in their usual spots. But on this day they had a special veneer of jubilance at witnessing yet another year of festivities – another year added to the calendar of the city which was once the seat of the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal empire.
But far from the clamour of the past, the titular Prince Yakub Habeebuddin Tucy, the self-proclaimed heir to the Mughal name, went on with work as usual inside a palace of his own in Hyderabad.
Tucy, who has legal documents proving his royal ancestry, is a sixth generation grandson of the last Mughal ruler to hold the seat in Delhi, Bahadur Shah Zafar.
Back in its heyday, the Mughal Empire would celebrate Eid with much fanfare. But to Tucy, Eid is no different than to his friends and neighbours.
“I will spend the day with family and friends, just like all other Muslims in the country. We will slaughter a goat for Qurbani and then the meat will be distributed among the poor and the priests,” Tucy told News18 over the phone.
Qurbani or ritualistic animal sacrifice is an intrinsic part of Eid-al-Adha, which literally means festival of sacrifice. According to Tucy, even in the Mughal empire, cow slaughter was banned and only goats, sheep, and camel were sacrificed. That is true for the most part. According to historians, there was no permanent regulation on slaughtering cattle, even though Akbar is known to have abolished cow slaughter, as is Humayun and Jahangir, though for possibly different reasons.
“The whole family will get together for a feast and our cooks will prepare the special Gulezar biriyani and, *dum-*pukh chicken and Shikanja kabab. These were staples in the Mughal court and we continue the tradition every Eid,” said the Prince, a loose tether at the snag end of an illustrious ancestry that ruled India in various parts an capacities since the 16th century. Until the British wrested control and exiled Zafar, the last of the Mughal rulers, to Rangoon for treason.
However, Tucy remembers him as a freedom fighter who fought for India’s freedom by supporting the 1857 sepoy mutiny.
The prince, whose entire extended family consists of almost 50 people, all of whom live in Hyderabad, is survived by two sons and two daughters and is a successful businessman.
Tucy plans to host an open house feast this Eid for everyone to enjoy the scrumptious fare. In fact, apart from Qurbani, another intrinsic part of Eid-al Adha is selfless giving, especially to the needy.
“This year, we will donate to the victims of Kerala floods,” the Prince told News18.
Meanwhile, another royal family is struggling to keep afloat in a world that is fast forgetting its historical heroes.
Tipu Sultan, who became the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in 1761, was one of the few southern rulers to have not acceded immediately to British rule. Celebrated as a military visionary and a secular ruler in school textbooks, the reputation of Tipu has been a valiant yet controversial one. The latter often expresses itself in examples such as opposition against celebration of Tipu Jayanti or against naming places on his name. Surviving members of the Sultan’s lineage, which live on obscure lives in Kolkata as well as Lucknow, Bangalore and other cities across India and the world, have been vocal about such attacks.