LAHORE - Punjab Auqaf Department has finalised arrangements for the 977th annual Urs celebrations of Hazrat Ali Bin Usman Alhajveri, popularly known as Hazrat Data Gunj Bakhsh, which will start on Oct 6.

Punjab Minister for Auqaf Syed Saeed-ul-Hassan Shah said this while giving a press briefing to the media persons at Lahore Press Club on Thursday. He told the journalists that Rs10 million were allocated for the Urs.

He said that 500 masheikh, religious scholars and Naat Khwans will be invited for spiritual mahafils. Sajjada Nashin (hereditary administrator) of renowned mazars including Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and Khwaja Nazamuddin will participate the Urs celebrations.

The minister said special charity food stalls would be set up at designated places of the shrine. Round-the-clock free food, he said, would be distributed among visitors during the three-day celebrations. Thousands of devotees from across the country and abroad attend the Urs of Data Sahib. The devotees light candles and pay homage to one of the great Sufi scholars of Subcontinent. The minister said that over 2,000 police, security guards of Auqaf and private companies were deployed for the purpose. The roads leading to the shrine will be closed down with barbed wire, tents, and barricades. All devotees will be checked with metal detectors and movements will be monitored inside and around the shrine with closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at different places under safe city project.

Free medical camps are also established for visitors.

Secretary Auqaf Dr Arshad Ahmad, DG Syed Tahir Raza Bokhari and Administrator Data Darbar Khalid Mehmood were also present.