When people usually throng to shrines, they pay homage to the saints, offer prayers, and ask for certain mannats (wishes) to be granted. Then, as a mannat is fulfilled, they revisit the mazar (shrine) to lay floral wreaths and chaddars, and to distribute food among the devotees.
Considering this pattern, the shrine Makhdoom Pir Syed Rajan Qattaar Jahania, situated 15 kilometres away from Sukkur, is a definite anomaly.
In a unique twist, people are required to offer a donkey for requited mannats to appease the entombed saint.
The shrine’s saint is said to have loved riding donkeys. PHOTO: SARFRAZ MEMON
What’s in a mule?
The colourful shrine, in Babarloi town, is a popular destination for devotees from across the country. According to Syed Ahmed Shah Jahania, one of the caretakers, Makhdoom Pir Syed Rajan Qattaar Jahania belonged to the Makhdoom Jahania family of Uch Sharif and had migrated to Sindh more than 150 years ago.
“People from far-flung areas of Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh come to pay homage to the saint. Thousands of devotees converge at the shrine on the eve of the annual Urs, held on the 14, 15 and 16th of Shaban,” the caretaker says. “The saint loved to ride donkeys. Therefore, offering one in return for a granted mannat is deemed necessary.”
Syed Ahmed adds that alongside offering donkeys, people also lay floral wreaths, chaddars and distribute food.
As Syed Ahmed reveals, all the money collected through the sale of donkeys is spent on the upkeep of the shrine because the authorities concerned do not pay heed towards maintenance.
“We keep all these donkeys at the shrine, and devotees never forget to bring fodder for them,” he says. “We don’t fix prices for them. Instead, people pay according to their purchasing power.”
Also, interestingly, these donkeys become ‘special’ after being offered at the shrine. “People rush to the mazar to buy them,” Syed Ahmed adds.
People with all sorts of problems, mostly health related issues, come to the mazar.
“The ill get well, and the childless are blessed with offspring,” says the caretaker, adding that the sick are often required to stay at the dargah for four nights, during which they are treated by the saint.
“Similarly, if a woman who desires a child stays at the shrine for seven Mondays, her wish will come true,” explains Syed Ahmed. “The child is born with a black spot on his or her body, which is covered with donkey hair.”
The power of belief
The devotees, countless in number, talk of miracles. Their stories are all full of a firm belief in the saint.
Devotee Rab Dino Shaikh has come all the way from the Mohammad Ali Shah village near Kandhkot. This is not his first visit.
“Last year, I broke my leg in an accident. Instead of going to the doctor, I came here, stayed for four nights, and was cured!” he exclaims, his confidence in the saint evident. “Now, I am suffering from a stomach problem, so I have come here once again.”
Shopkeeper Shahid Hussain shares the tale of his cousin, who was suffering from bone cancer and was cured after a stay. Today, the cousin is married and a father to a baby girl.
Similarly, Ashraf, a resident of Babarloi, has witnessed his own brother’s recovery.
“He was ill for a long time, and even doctors were unable to treat him,” says Ashraf. “One night, he dreamt of staying at the mazar. He listened to his subconscious and is now perfectly alright.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.
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