“I come here on every Urs of Data Sahib for last 20 years and spend three days in  his feet. Data Hazoor preached love for mankind. Devotion to him brings magical changes in life,” believes Hussain Elahi, a middle aged devotee of Hazrat Ali Hajvri (R.A) commonly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh whose 975th Urs celebrations started here yesterday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar along with Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri and Auqaf Minister Syed Saeedul Hassan inaugurated the three-day celebrations by laying floral wreath on shrine of 11th century great Sufi saint. Teachings of Hazrat Ali Hajveri are considered a treasure of lslamic wisdom on Sufism.

Hails from a village near Jhang, a city located 200km in west of Lahore, Hussain is among thousands of Hazrat Ali Hajveri’s devotees who cane at Urs from different far flung areas and call themselves malang of Data Sahib.

Wearing commonly green colour clothes, the scenes of their dance and chants on drum beats could be seen everywhere around the shrine. People enjoy free food, lit oil lamps around and inside the tomb and pray for peace. Distribution of free milk in large quantity is a special feature of the Urs. Separate arrangements were made for women and families visitors. There will be a local holiday in Lahore on concluding day of the celebrations.

Malk Zahoor and his family was also a frequent visitor of shrine of Data Darbar. He said he brings Halwa (a sweet traditional dish made with desi ghee, sugar, dry fruit and flour) on every Thursday night from his home in Shahdrah at shrine and distribute it among visitors. God, he said, bestowed his family with everything due to this act.

Punjab Auqaf Department is organising the event and fixed a grant of around Rs100 million for the purpose. It said the devotees from India, Saudi Arabia, Europe and the United States are also participating in Urs. Strict security arrangements were made to avoid any untoward situation at the site. Qirat and Naat competitions, International conference on Sufism, Qawali and Sama (music) mehfil were organised in connection of Urs welcoming activities.

Hazrat Ali Hajveri is said to be the spiritual teacher of Hazrat Moeenuddin Chishti Ajmeri, another great Sufi saint called as Tajdar-i-Hind (the King of India-Pakistan). Data Ganj Bakhsh means the master betower of treasure.

Devotees of saints in Sub-continent celebrate the death anniversaries of Sufis as their wedding celebrations in affirmation of the belief that death brings the saints into union with God.

Meanwhile Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan organised 4th national ‘Shan-i-Aulia Conference’ in connection of Data Sahib Urs. TLP leader Pir Ijaz Ashrafi along with others clerics addressed the event. The speakers highlighted the need to seek guidance from the teachings of great Sufi saint.