By Muhammad Jazib Munir, Salman Sikandar

The 430th urs of Hazrat Madhu Lal Hussain was celebrated on Saturday. Shah Hussain was born in 1538 in Lahore. He is regarded as the pioneer of Kafi (form of Punjabi poetry). He is particularly famous for his spiritual love for a Hindu boy named "Madhu" which later referred them as a single person with a blend name "Madhu Lal Hussain". He died at the age of 61 in Lahore and buried in the area of Baghbanpura where devotees meddle every year to pay their respects to the sufi poet .

We went to participate in the urs to witness the sublimity of our very own culture. The streets of Baghbanpura were giving a look of an on-going celebration. They were full of joy and happiness, children dancing on the beats of dhol (drums). Every street was decorated and welcoming banners were displayed on every shop. Every shop was decorated and smoke coming out of food stalls that were available on discounted rates because of Madhu Lal Hussain’s urs. We were passing through streets with hundreds of others men, women and children who also came there to visit the shrine of Madhu Lal to attend Maila Charaghan (festival of earthen lanterns).

There was so much security and check posts on our way where a bunch of policemen were checking the visitors by metal detectors and walk-through-gates which was unlikely to the past year as there were no proper security arrangements done in the past two years. So, the number of visitors were very less then but due to proper security, this year visitors were satisfied with the security so they were visiting the shrine in large numbers even with families.

After passing through all the security, we entered the main gate of shrine and the very first thing we saw was a big bowl in which fire was burning and people throwing oil and joss sticks in this bowl to keep it burning. It seemed as if we’ve come in the first millennium Persia. So, we asked a man what is this? And he told us that this is a big "Chiraag"(burner) which people kept burning to celebrate "Chiragha" (lights). It was clearly evident that this big burner had great importance for people that they didn’t let the fire to get low and after throwing oil in it, they were making dua (prayer) in front of it. We could witness the unfathomable desire, respect and love on their faces.

A lot of people were doing dhamal, wearing fancy dresses and necklaces made of ornamental stones. Dhamal is considered as a form of homage or tribute they pay to the sufis (saints). More important and an optimistic sight was watching both genders equally participating in the dhamal as well as organization of the event. Generally, the people belonging to working class are considered misogynists who consolidate the patriarchy in their households, but we were stunned to see women performing dhamal without any fear of harassment. Whereas, men were supporting them by giving them proper space instead of stopping them. It showed that men and women can co-exist without any power imbalance and women can protect themselves without any help.

We also saw some local eccentrics dressed in unusual outfits; many often considered as drug abusers. Such places are common for such spectacles, though they offer spiritual freedom, but can also be devastating for young minds. To prevent this from happening, the government must keep a strict check on it because shrines have become safe havens for drug addicts.

A few days back we read a report that Pakistan is far above from its neighbours in the list of happiness of people. We admit that everyone had doubts in minds, but the day we visited the Maila Charaghan our doubts about happiness in Pakistan were shrugged as we saw everyone so happy after a very long time.

Published in Young Nation Magazine on April 7, 2018