KARACHI: With a historic attendance of more than two million people, the three-day 765th urs of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar culminated in Sehwan on Wednesday. Amid the rituals, festivity, dance, music and fete, the devotees defied both barbaric terrorism and blazing heat.
Up to 14 people, including a woman and two children, reportedly died during the three days. Most of them were elderly and died due to heatstroke or heart attack, according to the Edhi Foundation.
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"More than two million devotees visited Sehwan during the urs," said Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who performed the closing ceremony at the shrine on Wednesday. The CM, who seemed relieved that no law and order situation came up during the urs in the wake of the deadly terrorist attack on the shrine on February 16, estimated that around 25% higher number of devotees visited the small town.
While the visit to the shrine, rituals and the Sufi dance, dhamaal, remain central activities in the urs, the sughar [folks] conference, literary conference, malakhra [traditional wresting] and musical nights were also arranged for the visitors.
"The message of Qalandar's tasawuf [spirituality] is the one of tolerance and consciousness," observed Prof Abdullah Mallah, speaking at the literary conference on Tuesday. He said the 13th century saint, whose real name was Syed Muhammad Usman Marvandi, dedicated his prayers, knowledge and struggles to enlighten the people of Sindh and create harmony among the people.
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Dr Makhmoor Bukhari said there is a perception that research on the life and philosophy of Qalandar is incomplete and that it requires a renewed approach. He asked the culture department to dedicate more resources for research and publication about the saint.
"A standard academic research [about Qalandar] hasn't been conducted so far," contended Prof InamullahShaikh, the regional director of Allama Iqbal Open University.
He said the Soomro dynasty (1024-1351) was a remarkable period in Sindh's history when education and culture developed and produced great characters in the society.
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"Qalandar promoted Sufism, education and love for [the fourth caliph] Hazrat Ali (RA) in that era."
More than three months after the terrorist attack in Sehwan, which left 90 people killed and 317 injured, the provincial government has started distribution of the compensation cheques. In Sehwan, the deputy commissioner of Jamshoro, Munawar Ali Mahesar, handed over the cheques of Rs1.5 million to families of each of the 12 deceased victims who belonged to Sehwan.
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The Sindh government has provided a sum of Rs250 million, including Rs119 million for the dead and Rs131 million for the injured. The cheques to the remaining families and injured persons will be handed over by the district administrations in the next four days.
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