SAHIWAL: The 777th annual congregation at the shrine of Baba Farid Ganj Shakar in Pakpattan kicked off on Sunday. Although traditionally the Urs celebrations started five days before Muharram, they formally began on Muharram 1 and would end on the 10th.

Sajada Nasheen Dewan Ahmed Masood Chishti inaugurated the ‘Mehfil-i-Sama’ on Saturday night. Thousands of devotees from across Pakistan and abroad had already arrived in Pakpattan to participate in the Urs.

On Saturday, provincial ministers Muhammad Hashim Dogar and Insar Majeed visited the shrine to inspect the arrangements for the event and the security measures at the entrance and exit points of the shrine.

The auqaf department had established special water stalls, while devotees are also served with a langar.

Chishti told the media that the Bahishti Darwaza will be opened on the night of Muharram 5. The auqaf department expects a million devotees to cross it over the five nights it will remain open.

The power company’s executive engineer is working to ensure less loadshedding during the 10 days of the Urs.

Provincial Minster for Auqaf Syed Saeedul Hasan Shah had announced that there will be free toilet facilities for male and female devotees during the Urs. But, the local auqaf administrator said he could not allow free toilet facilities until he had written orders from the auqaf secretary.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2019