The 760th Urs celebrations of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar (RA) began in Sehwan on Monday amid the deaths of devotees owing either to drowning or heat strokes.
At least nine people have died since Sunday. Out of them, three drowned in the water canals flowing across town while the remaining six died from heat stroke.
The acting governor of Sindh, Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, formally inaugurated the three-day celebrations. While talking to the media, Khuhro said that the government wants to complete the beautification and expansion of the shrine as soon as possible. He hoped that the devotees will find the shrine more beautiful next year. Around 1.5 million people are expected to attend the Urs. According to the Shahbaz Mela Committee, which organises the Urs, Sehwan attracts the largest number of devotees than any other shrine of a Sufi saint in the country.
“Providing services to millions of people who come here is a difficult task for the administration of small town,” said Jamshoro district’s deputy commissioner, Agha Sohail Pathan.
The celebrations feature Sugharan Jee Katchery (folklore discussion), an international Adabi (literary) Conference, concerts, agro-industrial exhibition, Malakhro (wrestling) and cattle shows, and will go on till Wednesday. A national literary conference, to be addressed by noted scholars, historians and intellectuals, will be held on Tuesday.
Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s real name was Syed Usman Marvandi. He was born in 1177 in Marvand city of Afghanistan. His ancestors had migrated from Baghdad in Iraq and Mashhad in Iran. Qalandar, a contemporary of Bahauddin Zakariya, Makhdoom Jahanian of Uch Sharif and others, settled in Sehwan and lived there till the end of his life in 1274.
The saint was also a known philosopher and a poet of his time. He was fluent in Persian, Turkish, Sanskrit, Arabic and Sindhi languages.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.