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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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