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A night, a lifetime at the Urs in Bhit Shah

I discovered at the shrine not just the world that exists out there, but the one that exists within myself.
Updated Nov 04, 2017 04:01pm

On a Saturday eve, I decided to venture off to a town, around 200 kilometres from Karachi. Accompanied by a friend, we drove through the cold night on a highway with heavily loaded trucks hurtling past us.

We were headed towards a town known as ‘Bhit Shah’. In this small town lies a great sufi scholar, mystic poet and saint who is loved and followed by thousands.

Tonight was no ordinary night. It was the 272nd Urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. With its second night underway, we looked forward to witnessing the vibrant festivities and celebrations.

The path leading to the shrine.
The path leading to the shrine.

The high energy here was palpable.
The high energy here was palpable.

We entered Bhit Shah through an archway embellished with lights. A pedestrianised street led us in. The eventful night started with a long walk towards the shrine with throngs of people.

The shining tomb slowly emerged as we kept moving closer to the centre of the crowd. Amid blaring music and the relentless chatter of people, calls of shopkeepers trying to lure in customers intensified.

Shopkeepers changing shifts.
Shopkeepers changing shifts.

A man selling stones.
A man selling stones.

Filing inside to pay respects.
Filing inside to pay respects.

The constant circulation.
The constant circulation.

As we arrived within the confines of the shrine, the hour was late, but the buzz of activity felt as if it was the middle of day. The bulbs hanging above shone brightly, and the shrine reflected their multi-coloured lights.

Just across the courtyard, opposite the door to Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai’s tomb, the last performance of the night was taking place.

The first view inside the Shrine.
The first view inside the Shrine.

The Shrine alive as ever at 2am.
The Shrine alive as ever at 2am.

Collecting alms.
Collecting alms.

On duty.
On duty.

The last performance.
The last performance.

There was a sense of calm within the mausoleum as the notes of the Tambooroo — a musical instrument invented by the sufi himself — filled the space.

A fascinated audience sat around the performers as haunting vocals rose through the air, invigourating the environment.

Pure emotion.
Pure emotion.

High note.
High note.

Around this spiritual performance was a constant hustle where people were entering the tomb, paying their respects, and praying fervently.

Some would either exit the shrine from the other side, or sit down to partake in the majestic experience that the performers had to offer.

The graveyard within.
The graveyard within.

Spending nights through the Urs.
Spending nights through the Urs.

Hopeful.
Hopeful.

Fakir Juman Shah.
Fakir Juman Shah.

They say you find tranquility if you search for it, may it be at the peak of a mountain, or at the foot of a hill, or perhaps at the sea shore under the starry night sky.

But that night, I discovered tranquility within myself.

For me, it was a soulful experience where I discovered not just the world that exists out there, but the one that exists within myself.

The spirituality of the Urs may beckon tens and thousands of people from all around the country for just three nights, but the affect it leaves resonates within you for a lifetime.


This blog was originally published on December 07, 2015