Data Gunj Baksh urs begins today

Millions to participate in three-day celebrations

The 979th annual urs of Hazrat Ali Hajveri (RA), famously known as Data Gunj Bukhsh, will begin today (Thursday) amid elaborate security arrangements.

Three-day celebrations of the annual event will conclude on Saturday, which has been declared a local holiday by the district administration. Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Auqaf Syed Rafaqat Ali Gilani will inaugurate the event by performing chadar poshi at the last resting place of the Sufi saint who played a pivotal role in spread of Islam in the Sub-continent. Accompanied by Secretary Auqaf Mian Abrar Ahmed, Director General Auqaf Tahir Raza Bukhari and other relevant officers, he will also inaugurate the milk sabeel outside the shrine.

The Punjab government has allocated Rs12.5 million for different events during the three-day-long urs celebrations. More than 500 religious scholars, custodians of shrines, Qaris, Naat Khawans from Pakistan and abroad will participate in the urs. The notable amongst participants include Syed Bilal Chishti, custodian of Khawaja Ghareeb Nawaz (RA) shrine, Khawaja Fareed-ud-Din Fakhri, custodian of Hazrat Shams Piya shrine in Aurangabad and Pir Syed Dewan Tahir Nizami, custodian of Hazrat Khawaja Nizam-ud-Din Awliya (RA).

Qirat, Naat and Sufi poetry competitions will be held to mark the event. Students of different religious seminaries and educational institutions will take part in the competitions. Millions of devotees from across the country and abroad will visit Lahore to pay homage to the eleventh century iconic Sufi saint. The administration has made proper arrangements for providing free meals (lungar) to people visiting the shrine.

As many as 3,000 police personnel, including three SPs and seven DSPs, will perform security duties at the shrine. The district administration and police officers will monitor security at the central control room through 133 CCTV cameras. People visiting the shrine will pass through walkthrough gates and will be checked with metal detectors. As many as 210 sanitary workers will perform cleanliness duties in two shifts.

Iftikhar Alam is a correspondent writing on religion, politics, agriculture, and energy. He takes people on a rich journey through the culture of Punjab. He tweets @imiftikharalam and can be reached at