DERA GHAZI KHAN, March 16: The shrine of Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar, maintaining its peculiarity of being the most frequently visited place in the district since the ancient times, is situated in the foothills of the Suleman range.
The urs of the saint commences in the month of March and lasts till mid April.
The town was renamed after its saint while previously it was known as Nigaha or Moqam, a sacred place for Hindus. According to the Hindu mythology, god Shiva was born in Moqam and spent his childhood here.
Islam started spreading in the area after the arrival of Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar Syed Ahmed in the thirteenth century. Now the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhs have great respect and reverence for the saint’s shrine and the town.
According to the gazetteer of Dera Ghazi Khan district (1893-97), Hazrat Sakhi Sarwar was born to Hazrat Zainulabdeen in 1220 AD, who had come from Baghdad.
Devotees mainly from Punjab and Sindh come here in large numbers to take part in urs which continues almost for two months.
Before partition, devotees from Jullundar, Hoshiyarpur, Gurdaspur districts and even from Mithra would come here to seek blessings.
The urs-cum-seasonal festival is celebrated at the shrine on every Thursday of March. Do Aba, Chanaw and Weesakhi are the three major events of the urs. Weesakhi festival relates to local farmers while rest of the two events are specific for devotees from the upper and central Punjab.
With the steady rhythmic beating of the drums, most of the male and female devotees dance at the shrine. A majority of women visiting the shrine wish to get sons with the blessings of the saint.
Later, devotees march through the bed of Kaki hill stream where they take a bath in temporary wells dug up by locals.
Devotees, including women and children, cross a narrow mountain path called pul sarat to “secure paradise” for themselves.
Mujawars (custodian) of the shrine belong to three clans — Kaheen, Sheikh and Khalung, descendants of three disciples — Jurat Langah, Ahmed Afghan and Gohra, respectively. Every mujawar family has its own devotees who stay at their houses during the urs.
Meanwhile, the shrine and its establishment, now under the Auqaf department, are not properly being looked after.
An ancient rest house-cum-shrine of Dhoda Rana (claimed to be brothers of the saint) in Wadoor village is situated between DG Khan and Sakhi Sarwar Sharif. Every devotee has to spend a night in Dhoda Rana shrine before proceeding to the main shrine. The local people have however demolished the Dhoda Rana shrine while the Auqaf department could not save the historical building despite getting huge monetary offerings from the shrine.
Despite having a water supply system, visitors face a constant problem of drinking water while medical facilities at the Civil Hospital are quite insufficient.