LAHORE: The Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in collaboration with the Punjab Auqaf Department launched four-day-long celebrations of Mela Chiraghan whereas dhamal and qawali nights are also being held in other parts of Lahore apart from the Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain in Baghbanpura.
This year, WCLA and the Auqaf Department have decided to revive the lost scale of the festival and to meet the objective festivities at Shah Jamal Shrine, Mian Mir Shrine and Shrine of Turt Murad Shah were also planned so that the people could get close to the message of Shah Hussain and realise the importance of this festival.
The four days festivity began from the Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain one day prior the beginning of yearly Urs whereas the dates of the Mela Chiraghan and Urs are from 30th March till 1st April. The first qawali night held at Shrine of Madho Lal Hussain was attended by several devotees and other qawali lovers from all over Lahore including foreigners who had heard of this yearly festival in the provincial capital.
On visiting the location, it was learnt that malangs from all over the country had gathered there who had set up their own tents whereas female devotees were also seen at the shrine. “I have come from Bahawalpur to attend the Urs of Madho Lal as I am his follower and spend almost a week here during the Urs days” Khaki Baba, a malang, told Pakistan Today.
Faseeh Ammar, another devotee present on the shrine, said, “I am here to clean the shrine and distribute langar (free food). Though I am working as a personal assistant in a private organisation but I am a follower of Shah Hussain and Madho Lal and therefore I take leave from office to be present at the shrine during the Urs days.”
Karim Malik a visitor on the location said, “After a long time we have come across the hype of this festival on social media and I think WCLA and Auqaf Departments have played a vital role in this. Being the oldest festival it should be celebrated all over Lahore and I will be going to other shrines as well where there are scheduled programs for this event.”
On Shah Hussain and Madho Lal, Deputy Director Media and Marketing of WCLA Tania Qureshi, she said, “Shah Hussain is the pioneer of the Kafi and was born in the Taxali Gate of Walled City Lahore. In Baghbanpura is the shrine of Shah Husain and with him lays buried Madho Lal Husain. It was their strong connection that their names as well became one. Shah Hussain’s poetry is based on the tunes and rhythms of music.”
While commenting on Mela Chiraghan she said, “The festival has been a continuous affair for centuries. The urs and the mela were two separate events and were combined into one, Mela Chiraghan (Festival of Lights) by Ranjit Singh. During Ranjit Singh’s rule in 18th century, the emperor would lead a procession from his palace to the shrine barefoot, accompanied by thousands of Sikhs, Muslims, and Hindus.”
“Mela Chiraghan is still regarded as the biggest festival of Punjab, both east and west, and has been a symbol of love, devotion, harmony and defiance of social customs. This festival gives a message of universal love and that love has no boundaries,” she added.
WCLA Director General Kamran Lashari said, “Mela Chiraghan has been celebrated since centuries and it is one of the oldest festivals of Sub-continent. With the passage of time this festival thinned and was limited to the Shrine of Madho Lal whereas in my childhood, I remember the entire Lahore celebrating this festival of lights.”
“This year, WCLA has taken up the initiative to extend the festivities to other parts of Lahore as well and this will hopefully motivate the people and bring awareness among the new generation about this festival of lights and message of Shah Hussain,” he added.