Thousands gather for Urs of Lal Qalandar

23 Aug 2008


DADU The rite of Mehndi or rasm-i-henna was held on the second day of the Urs of Sufi saint Qalandar Lal Shahbaz in Sehwan as thousands of jubilant devotees thronged the small town chanting slogans of “Jholay Laal Qalandar Must” on Friday.
The rite of Mehndi began when people started off in a procession from the Kafi (dervishes' abode) of Lal Daswading towards the shrine of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz.
In the true spirit of the Lal Qalandars teachings, people of all castes and religions attended the event.
A Hindu woman, Ms Shanti Kumari, said that she had been attending this Mehndi for the last 20 years. Ms Kumari claimed that when she attended the mehndi, her every wish was fulfilled.
A Muslim woman, Ms Fatima, who came from Sibbi with her family, said that it was her desire to attend the ritual of henna. She said it was her tenth year in Sehwan.
Many different kinds of rituals were being observed during the Urs as the diverse followers of the Qalandar celebrated the three-day event according to their own traditions and beliefs.
The Mehndi, the mourning procession and the elevation of a disciple or mureed are the three most important features of the three-day event.
Perhaps the most interesting of these is the elevation of a mureed. This ritual is organised by the 'Sipahis' or soldiers of the Bodlo Bahar, a disciple of the Qalandar. The shrine of Bodlo Bahar is located close to the shrine of Qalandar Lal Shahbaz on its western side.
Outside the shrine of Bodlo Bahar, young men cut their long flowing locks marking their entry into the fold of the dervishes in an elaborate ceremony.
After shaving off their head and eyebrows, the disciples, clad in red robes, dance to the beat of the Dhamaal.
It is a essential for a new disciple to end all relations with people and live as a soldier of Bodlo Bahar. The ceremony marks the end of their previous lives and their symbolic rebirth as a soldier of Bodlo Bahar. The mureeds are given a new name to mark their transformation.
Several groups of pilgrims organised the Mehndi at different spots.
At one place, folk musicians, banging drums and playing the harmonium, took out a small Mehndi parade from their houses singing Sufi songs. The henna was placed on a golden tray and a red dupatta was held atop by an old lady. The ritual was organised by Hindu devotees of the saint.
Meanwhile, groups of mourners visited the shrine throughout the day and night, adding a sombre and dark tone to the proceedings.
The mourning was held inside the shrine where young bare-chested men struck themselves with daggers in remembrance of the sacrifices at Karbala.
Emotions ran high at the tomb as mourners collapsed in an ecstacy of grief and prayer.
The famous sport of Malakhro, a form of traditional wrestling, was held at the stadium where contestants from all over the country participated.
Sugharan-ji-Katchehry (session of recital of oral poetry) was held at Shahbaz Auditorium on Thursday night which was attended by hundreds of Sughars from all over Sindh.