LAHORE - Mela Chiraghan, the festival of lights that marks the birth of the sufi saint Hazrat Shah Hussain, began with its traditional fervor at Baghbanpura today. Punjab Auqaf Minister Ehsanuddin Qureshi inaugurated the festival.
The provincial minister while talking on the occasion urged religious figures to play their role to build a society based on harmony, tolerance and equity. “As our religion teaches peace, harmony and equity, I request religious figures to spread teachings of saints to create a charitable and tolerant society,” the minister said.
Thousands of people from different walks of life attended the event at the saint’s shrine near the Shalimar Gardens. The roads leading to the tomb are full of stalls. Television sets have also been stalled on various places showing videos of dances on the drum beat (dhamal) performed at stage shows to entertain the devotees.
All sort of food items are on sale: Gol Gappas, Fruit Chaat, Qatlamas, sweets and even pakoras. During the festival, devotees light thousands of earthen lamps at the saint’s shrine.
A large segment of the festival crowd comprises young people. Pilgrims toss candles into a large bonfire as legend has it that anyone doing this would be granted their wish by God. Some believe that their prayers would be answered if they sit close to the fire. Shah Hussain (1538-1599) lived during the era of Mughal emperors Akbar and Jahangir. It is said he adopted the name of his Hindu disciple Madhu Lal to immortalize their friendship. Traditionally, Shah Hussain’s Urs used to be held in Shalimar Bagh and marked the start of a three-day festival.
Mela Chiraghan of Lahore is one of the biggest festivals in the city celebrated every year for 3 days starting on the eve of last Friday. Also known as Mela Shalamar, Mela Chiraghan is a festival of lights. On this occasion, the devotees of Shah Hussain gather in the outskirts of the shrine and light lamps to pay reverence to the holy saint. Mela Chiraghan commemorates the death anniversary of Shah Hussain – the Punjabi saint and Sufi poet. On the 1st day of Mela Chiraghan, the devotees of Shah Hussain organize a procession after dusk. This occasion is marked by a lot of revelry and merriment.