LAHORE - Mela Chiraghan, the festival of lights, which marks the birth anniversary of great sufi saint Hazrat Shah Hussain, commonly known as Madho Lal Hussain, has kicked off with usual zeal and festivity here on Saturday. Provincial Minister for Auqaf Syed Ehsanud Din Qureshi inaugurated the three-day Urs celebrations by laying floral wreath. Every year this celebration turns into a festival of lamps, a big event for the people of Punjab and especially for Lahorites. A local holiday was also announced on Saturday. On the occasion, thousands of devotees from all over the country gathered at the holy shrine to pay tribute and light 'Chiragh (Lamp).The entire area of Baghbanpura, where the shrine of Shah Hussain is situated, has been decorated with colourful buntings. The illuminated streets in surroundings of the shrine give a unique look to his whole festival. Dhamal (dancing on the rhythm of drum beating) is also the main feature of the festivity. As usual the festival attracted a large number of artistes who recite poetry of Shah Hussain and perform Dhamal. Devotees distribute langar and lay floral wreaths and chaadars at the graves of Shah Hussain and Madho Lal Hussain. Special stalls of traditional foods and soft drinks have been established and the locals have also set up television screens showing dances performed at stage shows to entertain the devotees. All sorts of traditional food items like gol gappas, fruit chaats, qatlamas and sweetmeat have been put on sale at different stalls in area of the Bhaghbanpura. Dhamaal is a common sight as numerous groups of malangs dance to the beat of drums. During the festival, devotees light thousands of earthen lamps and candles which is a sufi metaphor for eliminating the 'inner darkness that humans live with. Shah Hussain, the poet of love, was born in 1538. His family lived at a house located outside Taxali Gate alongside the Ravi. However, some of the researchers differ with this and insist that he was born in village Dhadhi in Pind Dadan Khan, District Jehlum. As Shah Hussain had strong faith in love for humanity, he included a Hindu boy Madhu among his disciples. Researchers say Madhu was true follower of Shah Hussain and left his family for him. For Madhu, Shah Hussains love was so intense that Madhus name became a part of his own name, and even now he is known as Madhu Lal Hussain. Researchers also say Madhu had embraced Islam when he saw Shah Hussains miracles (Karamaat). Shah Hussain is considered to be the first Punjabi sufi poet who composed poetry in Punjabi known as 'Kafees which is still very simple to understand his message. Knowing God by knowing ourselves is the main theme of his poetry. His work is romantic and has all the symbols of rich cultural heritage. In 1599, Shah Hussain passed away at the age of 63. It is also believed by the researchers that at first he was buried in Shahdara. After 13 years, his body was exhumed and was re-buried at Baghbanpura, when the Ravi changed its course flooding his grave in Shahdara. The last three days of the festival are reserved for women only who also come in large number to the shrine. Many a great number of foreigners also visit the shrine. Folk singers hailing from different parts of the country spend days and nights at the shrine and sing Hussains poetry.