KARACHI: Along with miracles and prayers, hundreds of devotees flock to Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s mazaar in the quest for free food. After the bomb blasts at the shrine on October 7, the langar (charity kitchens) have yet to resume.
For four days, scores of people who are regular diners at the shrine have been deprived of their free meals.
The langar is a regular feature at the mazaar. Everyday without fail, some or the other devotee distributes cauldrons or degs of food to poor people at the shrine. This is the first time in several years that this steady source of food had been halted. The most popular langar around the Shah Ghazi shrine helps feed thousands every day. It is open 24 hours a day and every other hour some kind of snacks are being dished out.
The source of free food is one of the reasons so many destitute and poor people are always camped out on the footpaths and streets around the shrine. At least this way we don’t have to worry about getting at least one meal every day, they said. Not only has their food source come to an end but the police are not even letting them sleep on their usual curbsides.
The attack might not have hurt these homeless people but the safety measures taken after the attack have forced them to find a bed elsewhere.
Along with the food, business around the shrine too has come to a complete stop. Kitchens, flower and perfume shops among others are shuttered down.
There are at least 12 caterers around the shrine who serve biryani and other food for around Rs500 to Rs1,800 per deg.
People come and pay them as part of sadqa or charity to ward off the evil eye. Meanwhile, wreaths are priced from Rs100 to Rs500 while the simpler rose petals are sold at Rs10 to Rs30 per packet.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2010.