Scores of devotees flocked to the shrine of venerated Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan despite the mercury sizzling at 46 degrees Celsius on Monday after it was reopened for visitors after a closure of five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The shrine opened at 4:30am after the usual ‘khidmat’ of the gravesite, said an Auqaf employee present outside the brown-coloured woden kathera that houses the saint's grave.
A spellbinding aura of mysticism could be felt as the faithful entered the shrine's premises chanting "Bolo bolo Lal Qalandar mast". As usual, beautiful white pigeons fluttered around the dome – dotted with meticulously engraved names of Allah – and proceeded to perch in a corner while continuing their rhythmic cooing.
Compliance of Covid-19 standard operating procedure (SOPs) was observed to some extent, while police and Auqat officials reminded visitors to put on masks and avoid forming crowds. Under the SOPs, a public dhamal is not yet allowed as a precautionary measure against the spread of the virus.
— All photos by Umair Ali
Header image: Visitors pictured inside the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar after it was reopened on Aug 17