Lahore: Three-day celebrations of 967th Urs of Hazrat Ali bin Usman Hajveri, known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, will begin amidst tight security here on Sunday (today).
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif will inaugurate the festivities by laying floral wreaths and opening the milk Sabeel at the shrine of the 10th century Sufi saint who was among the pioneers of preaching and spreading Islam in the sub-continent, particularly in Punjab.
As per tradition, milkmen will bring thousands of litres of milk as a donation for the milk Sabeel at Data Darbar which will be distributed among the devotees and visitors during the Urs.
Millions of devotees from all parts of the country come to witness the Urs and to offer special prayers. A large number of devotees, especially youth, have already gathered at and around the shrine from all over Punjab. They are dancing, drumbeating and collecting donation to participate in the Urs while philanthropists provide them food as part of worship.
The district administration has taken all the necessary measures to maintain peace and security during the Urs. A special committee, headed by Auqaf Minister Ehsanuddin Qureshi, and comprising Auqaf Secretary Tariq Mehmood Pasha and Auqaf Director Tahir Raza Bukhari, is supervising all the preparations and management of different functions during the Urs.
Various seminars on Sufism, spiritual gatherings, Qirat and Naat competitions, debate contests, seminars, lectures of religious scholars, etc will also be a part of the Urs. Noted and amateur Naat Khwans, Qawwals and Qaris will participate in these contests. Besides, a large number of Ulema, Mashaikh, spiritual leaders and Gaddi Nasheens from all over the country will take part in the congregations and meetings.
According to Auqaf Minister Ehsanuddin Qureshi, over 500 Ulema, Mashaikhs and custodians of popular shrines from all over the country and abroad will gather for the Urs ceremonies to conduct various spiritual sittings which will be attended by thousands of devotees.
These gatherings will be presided over by noted personalities like Syed Muhammad Bilal Chishti of Ajmer Sharif, India, Diwan Syed Tahir Nizami from Mehroli Sharif, India, Khwaja Fakhruddin Fakhri, Syed Ahmad Ashraf Shah, Ghulam Qutubuddin, Nazeer Ali Shah, Baqar Ali Shah while prominent among the participants will be Khwaja Abul Khair, Samsam Ali Shah, Abdul Shakoor Hazarvi, Sufi Ashraf Masoomi, Siddiq Hazarvi, Mufti Khan Mohammad Qadri, Ashraf Asif Jalali, Prof ZAfarul Haq, Abdul Tawwab Siddiqi, Fida Hussain Shah, Hafeezullah Mehrvi, Mehmood Ahmad Qadri and others.
They will also offer special prayers for national security and prosperity and for the wellbeing of Muslim Ummah.
In view of the ongoing wave of terrorism, particularly the twin suicide blasts at the shrine last year, special security arrangements have been made including nine walkthrough gates, 80 security cameras and other monitoring apparatus which would be manned by over 500 policemen, 65 security guards of the Auqaf Department besides over 100 others from private security agencies. In addition to that, hundreds of volunteers, employed by the department, will perform different duties.
While officials of the bomb disposal squad, Civil Defence and other civic agencies, like Wasa and Wapda, will be deployed to meet any emergent situation.
[Picture: Data Darbar. Photo: Wiki.]