Nine devotees swoon from heat in Sehwan

Thousands turn up at Urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

Z Ali May 27, 2016
Thousands turn up at Urs of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. PHOTO: SHAHID ALI/EXPRESS

HYDERABAD: At least nine devotees attending the 764th Urs of 13th century Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sindh’s Sehwan town have died of heatstroke in the past three days, rescue workers say.

The annual celebrations officially kicked off on Thursday under blistering conditions as the mercury touched 48 degrees.

17 devotees die on first day of Urs celebrations

Tens of thousands of devotees have flocked to the small town of Sehwan to express reverence to the saint, whose message of peace has long been a part of Sindh’s culture.

According to Edhi Foundation’s regional in-charge Mairaj Ahmed, a woman and a teenage boy were among 10 people, who died in the two days preceding the official inauguration of the Urs by Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad on Thursday.

Nine of the victims died of heatstroke and dehydration while a 17-year-old boy named Baqar Ali was burnt to death in a small explosion caused by fireworks, he added.

Surprisingly no deaths were reported on a day when the mercury peaked at 48 degree Celsius in the afternoon.

While exposing the inept management of the electricity authorities, ceaseless power outages tested the mettle of the devotees as they danced away amid the festivities in one of the hottest places of Sindh, located on the foothills of the Kirthar Mountain Range.

Pakistan sizzles in hottest week of year

The narrow streets of the town remained filled to the brim with visitors from all parts of the country, but largely from the Sindh and Punjab provinces.

“Despite the severely hot weather, the participation of such a huge number of people reflects the devotion and dedication to Qalandar’s message of peace,” said Governor Ebad while talking to the media after laying a wreath and offering Fateha at the saint’s shrine.

Qalandar was born in Azerbaijan and travelled to Iraq and Iran before finally settling in Sehwan more than seven centuries ago. The revered saint also attracts a large number of followers of Hinduism.

According to official estimates, every year between 500,000 and 700,000 people visit the town during the three days of Urs.

Although this number has shown a constant increase over the years, facilities like accommodation, water, transport and cleanliness remain incommensurate.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 27th, 2016.


Last Man Alive | 5 years ago | Reply Do Corruption, Cruelty and Cheating throughout the Year THEN Come to an Urs and get all the sins forgiven. Resume Cruelty and Cheating throughout the Year.
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