Friday, April 10, 2009

'Luxury' at a cost of real life

We have been emphasizing on the fact that nothing is being done to eradicate these evils from these darbars, while darbars’ management and police say that they’re trying their level best. We cannot be completely pessimistic towards their claim. There are endless talks of police reforms and NGO objectives but their service is indeed mired in inefficiency and corruption. In spite of all this there are some measures undertaken by the relevant authorities to curb the deadly issues of the darbar. They have a drug rehabilitation centre inside the vicinity of the Data Darbar. Moreover many organizations have started to work to curb the menace uprising in the Darbar. There are some NGOs that have setup their offices at Data Darbar such as “Nigh-e-Ban” which is part of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau (CPWB), formed in 2004. It is working to rescue the children and rehabilitate them. They provide them with primary education, encourage them to study and help them recover from drug addiction and other issues they get involved in. The rehabilitation process will take its due time. Moreover, International Organization like United Nations International Children Educational Funds (UNICEF) has come in collaboration with the local government of Punjab, Pakistan to help the socially abused children around the pious Darbar area. How far such efforts will succeed in resolving the issue of these children remains to be seen.
During my research i interviewed a few of the children who are residing in these children centres in the darbar. I was alarmed when i found out that some of the children runaway from homes because they don’t want to continue studies as they’re afraid of physical torture by their teachers. Does this mean that some blame goes towards our educational institutions? Children at the darbar don’t have the motivation to learn something good in life. They don’t even feel like working. According to them they’re earning from begging and they don’t need anything else. For other fascinations and charms they accompany peers to nearby mini- porno cinemas, get highly intoxicated and settle into a slumber of lost paradise. After hours they’re either dragged by police or they’re left there by themselves. With the childrens’ so called satisfied lives, the question that now arises is do these children want to get out of the misery even if relevant authorities do their jobs?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why shrines!?

If you have been following this blog you know that what we as contributors have tried to highlight the negative aspects, for lack of a more appropriate word, of the shrines. The illegalities that go on here everyday! The children, the runaways, the prostitutes and the druggies! Now I would like to bring your attention to a more controversial issue regarding these shrines. The legalities regarding this subject in the rule book of Islam. Building up these mausoleums seems to have acted as en evil in the society that has succeeded in rising up more evils. People prostrate to these tombs and worship them. They are the devotees of the durbars. They ask the great dead to pray for them to God and they speak of the great people of the shrines as immortals who came to earth! It has prompted rituals and cultures that were never meant to be. Building up shrines has homed much more than was banked on. So why build them up? I’ll welcome any suggestions that you may have for this openly.

Rites & Rituals at the Shrines

Shrines today have their own rituals that they perform. A simple silly ritual surrounding these shrines is the tying threads in knots around a tree. The purpose being, to make a wish, 'mannat' from God. I saw one of these little trees my self on my excursion of the shrines. It was dresses in what looked like threads. Another famous ritual is that of ‘urs’. This is the anniversary of the death of shrine people. The most famous ‘urs’ is that of the data durbar for Hazrat Ali Hajveri. People come from all over Pakistan to attend it. There are dances and performances and food. It’s a proper celebration. People who don’t know better would think there is a party going on. I’m going to go a little religious here and tell you that the most important issue here is the ritual of prostrating before the tombs of these people. This is a big NO NO. It sounds a little cliché but we bow to no one but One God! I think it is important to educate people in such matters and I hope this blog will be helpful. These are just a few of the silly rituals that our great nation has come up with. It’s time to move past such sordid affairs and concentrate on the more important things in life, one of them being to try and keep up with our faith.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mirror to the realities of Data Darbar

The documentary shows the real picture. Interview by the local drug addicts of that area clearly shows that they live there because they get free food. Police instead of eradicating this problem from the area, are just interested in getting money out of their pockets even if it is Rs.20 only.

Another interview by the devotees from Rahim Yar Khan quotes a story where they saw a woman who came to Data Darbar from her house as she had a fight with her husband. Later in the morning nobody knew where she went nor even the officials. Where that women went leaves an unanswered question in our minds.

A true Picture, if you still don't believe it...take a walk around the premises of'll see it YOURSELF!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I’m sure my story would be hilarious for most of my readers but it has some serious complications to it as well. I am or I was an inexperienced visitor to these Durbars and now I realise that this is hardly a safe place for one to visit with family and children and well I was scared out of my wits. Dangerous is the right word here. Hard to believe as it may be that any Holy place can be dangerous! But then there you go. I post this blog here to share with you my experience on my visit to the shrines and would more than welcome yours. Here it goes. As you drive down to the road of one the most famous ‘mazarz’ in Lahore, the tomb of Hazrat Syed Abul Hassan Bin Usman Bin Ali Al-Hajweri, the famous Sufi saint of Iran, located just outside the Bhati Gate, you come across a rush of people all jumping at your car speaking all the different kinds of languages that Pakistan has to offer, most of what they are trying to say you hardly understand, especially when you are trying to figure out why are all these people jumping at you?. It is hardly a pretty picture. You find yourself wondering what these people want. Surely they are here to pay homage to the people in the tombs as is their custom? As I came to learn they are here for much much more. I was there for research purposes and to confirm what I had already heard about these Shrines. The real experience however, goes far beyond what you have heard and hardly fun.
First I found it’s very important to park your car in a safe place, park it anywhere and you might find it gone. Although they have an underground parking space but it is hardly fit for use, especially if you have family. You find all kinds of people lurking in the dark behind the cars, the drug addicts are in abundance. After that you wedge your way amongst the crowd to the entrance of the Durbar. The durbar is huge and has separate entrances for the men and women. I naturally went in to the men’s entrance. Here again was a haul of people either getting I or out of the mausoleum. The inside of the shrine was thankfully free from all such hassle and was clean. Most of the dirt was outside. I tried to interview some of them but they have gotten clever over the years and too experienced in their game. They hardly gave me any answers and when they did say it was very vague but it was beyond doubt that they were drug addicts that have wasted away their lives. There was a huge haul of people at the ‘Lunger’ too. That is the place they give food to all the needy people that come. There was a huge line and people were fighting over to get to the food first. It was a pitiful site. It’s hard to believe, these shrines are meant for something else and what goes on in their name is a completely different story!


The city of Lahore is full of mausoleums all around it. The shrines of these great people, The Data Durbar for Hazrat Ali Hajveri, the Shah Jamal for, well Hazrat Shah Jamal and the Modhe Lal Husain, to name just a few have all been built for a reason, it maybe for the greater good of humanity and more importantly to honour these great people for the great work that they have done and devoted themselves to doing all their lives. But they hardly fulfil this purpose. Taking a look at these shrines ‘mazarz’ as they are locally known show us quiet a different picture today. Today they seem to be spreading more evil than doing good for the people. This is the purpose of creating this blog to claw out what is hidden beneath the surface of such untouched subjects, call them untouchables if u will and put the realities in front. The fact still remains, that such issues do exist and need to be taken under discussion. Questions arise. For me I wondered if these shrines were doing more good for people or creating more evil. Our country seem to be bent upon taking a negative role in anything good that comes their way and turning it around to evil destroying themselves and their societies in the process. These shrines, these Holy places were not built for such a purpose. If anything they were built to honour these great people and to inspire the others to try and take a leaf out of their book and apply to our daily lives. But we took something that is good and pure and turned it into pure evil, which brings me back to my original point. I personally am new to this concept of shrines and mazarz but I would respect it just the same. My respect, however remains for the people and their work and goes no further.

From what I saw or gathered form my first visit to these places or heard about them shocked me and lead me to question if these shrines are really the root that accelerates certain evils of this society. I saw in these holy places all kinds of people in one day that I would be hard put to find on anywhere else on an ordinary day in Lahore. I saw druggies, I saw prostitutes, I saw abandoned and very possibly illegitimate children, homeless women and the list goes on. Why is it that the haul of all these people gather at these mausoleums of all other places. For all these people these Shrines seem like a refuge from their problems or in most cases from the police or a place to carry out their illegal operations in secrecy. It has become more of a sanctuary for them. Why? Because here you will find many a destitute vulnerable people in need of desperate help. And these shrines have become somewhat of a platform for them to carry out their operations. These holy places hardly seem to be there for a holy purpose now. So the question still remains, shrines: what are they here for? What’s their role in all this? Do they allow more good or evil to flourish? You decide!

Mian Mir's Shrine - The Inside Picture