(downloaded April 2001)
LAHORE: Data Sahib's urs begins
By Our Reporter (DAWN)
LAHORE, May 23, 2000: Three-day annual urs celebrations
of the 11th century saint Syed Ali bin Usman Hajvairy popularly known as
Data Ganj Bakhsh began here on Tuesday with Punjab Governor Muhammad Safdar
laying a floral wreath at his grave after Isha prayers.
He was accompanied by provincial ministers, high officers and the Auqaf
department officials. Later, he also opened a milk 'sabeel'.
The shrine of Data Ganj Bakhsh and the newly rebuilt grand mosque nearby
were profusely decorated and illuminated for the occasion. Elaborate arrangements
were made by the Auqaf department to celebrate the 956th urs of the saint
in a befitting manner. A large number of devotees of the saint from different
parts of the country besides tens of thousands from the city will be visiting
the Data Darbar to pay their homage to the saint. Separate arrangements
have been made for women to visit the shrine.
Hundreds of people recited the Holy Quran at the darbar and the mosque
while long queues of devotees were formed to offer Sura Fatehaat the grave.
Teams of volunteers and the Auqaf officials were busy maintaining discipline
and checking the activities of anti-social elements. Security arrangements
were also made by the law enforcing agencies to prevent any untoward incident
at the darbar. However, the visitors have been asked to remain alert and
keep a vigilance on saboteurs.
A round-the-clock qawwali session also began with the commencement of
the urs celebrations. Prominent qawwal and naat reciters of the country
are participating in the sessions which will continue throughout the urs
days till Thursday night. Different groups of qawwals have been formed
for various sessions, which will be held at a separate enclosure with a
seating capacity of over 1,500 people.
A three-day session of speeches by ulema and scholars at the Data Darbar
mosque will begin on Wednesday (today). They will be highlighting the life
and achievements of Data Ganj Bakhsh, particularly in the field of mysticism
and preaching of Islam. Various sessions will be held till Thursday which
will be presided over by the provincial ministers and Auqaf officers.
The milk sabeel and the huge 'langer khana' are attracting a large number
of persons for milk and meals. While hundreds of 'degs' rice, pulses and
meat will be cooked daily during the urs. A large quantity of cooked food
will be brought by the devotees from their homes for distribution at the