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Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar

The Shrine of Lal Shabaz Qalandar (Urdu: لال شہباز قلندر مزار‎; Sindhi: لال شهباز قلندر جي مزار‎) is a Sufi shrine dedicated to the 13th century Islamic mystic, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. The shrine is located in Sehwan Sharif, in the Pakistani province of Sindh. The shrine is one of the most important in Pakistan,[1] and attracts up to one million visitors annually.[2]

Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
لال شہباز قلندر مزار
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar view5.JPG
The shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is one of Pakistan's most important Sufi shrines
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is located in Sindh
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Shown within Sindh
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is located in Pakistan
Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar
Shown within Sindh
Basic information
Location Sehwan Sharif
Geographic coordinates 26°25′10″N 67°51′34″E / 26.4193143°N 67.8593731°E / 26.4193143; 67.8593731Coordinates: 26°25′10″N 67°51′34″E / 26.4193143°N 67.8593731°E / 26.4193143; 67.8593731
Affiliation Sufi
District Jamshoro
Province Sindh
Country Pakistan Pakistan
Year consecrated 1356 C.E.
Architectural description
Architectural type Mosque and Sufi mausoleum
Architectural style Perso-Islamic
Specifications
Dome(s) 1
Dome height (outer) 110 feet
Dome dia. (outer) 56 feet
Minaret(s) 4

Contents

HistoryEdit

The shrine's construction was started under the reign of Shah Tughluq,[3] who ordered that the saint's remains be enshrined in Sehwan Sharif.[4] The tomb complex was built in 1356 C.E.,[5] though it has been expanded several times since its founding. Ibn Battuta mentions the shrine during his travels to the region in the mid-fourteenth century.[6] Though the shrine was founded centuries ago, its popularity expanded in the late 20th century.[7]

On 16 February 2017, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province claimed responsibility for a suicide attack at the shrine that resulted in the deaths of 88 people.[8] The following morning, the shrine's caretaker continued the daily tradition of ringing the shrine's bell at 3:30am, and defiantly vowed that he would not be intimidated by terrorists.[9] The shrine's dhamaal, or meditative dancing ceremony, was resumed the very next evening following the attack.[2] A few days later, several leading Pakistani artists and performers partook in a dhamaal at the shrine as a defiant response to radical Islamists.[10]

BuildingEdit

 
Interior view of the shrine

The shrine was built in 1356, but was subsequently upgraded. The completed portions are now extensively covered in white marble, glazed tiles, and mirror work. The shrine's gold-plated main door was donated by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the 1970s.[11] The saint's tomb is located under the shrine's central dome, with some illumination provided by small earthen oil lamps similar to those used in Hindu ceremonies.[5]

Much of the shrine was to be rebuilt on the orders of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto after portions of the central dome collapsed in 1994.[12] A new gilded dome was completed, while the shrine's dhamaal courtyard was also built at this time.[12] The dome's height is 110 feet, while its diameter is 56 feet.[13] The dome's outer surface is gilded with gold-plated tiles from the United Arab Emirates, while the interior surface is decorated with tile from Iran.[13]

Sunni and Shia mosques were to also have been constructed at the shrine as part of Bhutto's renovation plans.[12] A shopping centre, new lavatories, and a resting place for travelers were also to have been built.[12] A CCTV-camera system was also to have been deployed in a 4 kilometre radius around the shrine, though most of the cameras were eventually stolen after being delivered to local police in 2011,[13] with the theft remaining unreported to higher authorities for several months.[13]

SignificanceEdit

 
Dhamaal, or meditative dancing sessions, are held at the shrine during which participants enter a trance-like state to the tune of rapid drum beats.

The shrine is one of Pakistan's most revered,[1] and attracts up to one million visitors annually.[2] Women are also allowed a greater degree of social freedom around the shrine.[14]

SufisEdit

The shrine is considered to be the chief shrine for malangs and qalandars - adherents of a distinct Sufi order inspired by the teachings of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.[15] The matted hair and torn clothing of the malangs may be influenced by Hindu Shaivite yogis, as Sehwan Sharif was a stronghold of the Shaivite Hindu tradition prior to the Partition of British India.[16]

The shrine also holds dhamaal ceremonies, or dancing sessions accompanied by rhythmic drum-beating to induce a trance-like meditative state,[17] that are believed to have been performed by Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.[18] Men and women both participate in the dhamaal,[19] though in portions of the shrine's courtyard that are roped off for use by each gender.[14] The February 2017 bombing at the shrine was detonated during the dhamaal ceremony.[20]

HindusEdit

 
The shrine attracts both Muslim and Hindu devotees.

The shrine attracts Hindu devotees,[21] while one of the shrine's two sajjada nasheens, or hereditary guardian-families, is a Hindu family.[22] Hindus still perform the mehndi ritual at the opening of the shrine's annual urs, or fair.[23] Until the 19th century, Hindus as well as Muslims believed that the flow of the nearby Indus River waxed and waned according to the whim of the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar.[24] The name of the Sindhi Hindu variant of the God of water, Jhulelal, is displayed prominently in the shrine.[25]

CulturalEdit

The qawwali song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar is famous throughout South Asia, and is in praise of the Sufi saint who is interred at the shrine.[26] Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, frequented the shrine and is said to have identified with Lal Shahbaz Qalandar,[27] and used his frequent visits to the shrine to portray himself as part of Sindh's cultural traditions.[28] The song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar was commonly played during his campaign rallies and became an unofficial anthem for the Pakistan People's Party.[27]

The shrine also attracts roving minstrels of impoverished gypsy women, known as chāi-vālī or lotevālī, who sing devotional songs at the shrine in return for meagre alms.[29] The practice of female minstrel groups is unique to the shrine and is not found elsewhere in Sindh.[30] Some gypsy singers at the shrine have evolved into sought-after musicians in nearby Hyderabad.[31] Taj Mastani was a former member of a minstrel group, and began performing at concerts within Pakistan, as well as for the Pakistani diaspora abroad.[32] The Pakistani folk-singer Reshma in the 1960s gained international fame for singing a Saraiki version of the song Dama Dam Mast Qalandar at the shrine,[26] though she was neither gypsy nor part of a roving minstrel group.

Annual festivalEdit

 
The shrine attracts wandering Sufi mystics known as qalandars.

An annual Urs, or celebration of the saint's death-anniversary, is held on the 18 Sha'aban[33] – the eighth month of the Muslim lunar calendar. The 764th urs was celebrated in May 2016.[34] The annual fair has become increasingly popular,[35] and now attracts more than half a million pilgrims from all over Pakistan.[36] Visitors and performers also sometimes join Jhulelal sangat groups, and travel to the shrine together in a qafilah, or caravan.[7] Visitors offer tributes, and ask for the saint's intercession on their behalf,[37] while Shia devotees perform ritual chest-beating,[34] that is typically performed during mourning sessions in the month of Muharram.

The festivities also include entertainment events. Bands of folk-singers, known as mandali, are invited from various regions in Pakistan each year. Malakhro, or Sindhi-style wrestling, is also on display during the annual festival.[38] Dhamaal sessions are also conducted on the shrine's premises during the fair,[34] while cannabis consumption is also common during festivities.[35]

Shrine of IbrahimEdit

The Shrine of Ibrahim in Bhadresar in the Indian state of Gujarat is believed by some locals there to be the resting place of Lal Shahbaz,[39] although this attribution is considered to be traditional rather than historical.[39]

GalleryEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Pakistan: IS attack on Sufi shrine in Sindh kills dozens". BBC. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Pakistan's Sufis defiant after Islamic State attack on shrine kills 83". Reuters. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  3. ^ Darbelevi, Syed Dinal Shah (2006). Hazrat Shahanshah Lal Shahbaz Qalander. S.D.S. Darbelvy. p. 157. 
  4. ^ Chatterjee, Ramananda (1947). The Modern Review, Volume 81. Prabasi Press Private. 
  5. ^ a b Hiro, Dilip (2012). Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia. Yale University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780300183665. 
  6. ^ Delage, Remy; Boivin, Michel (2015). Devotional Islam in Contemporary South Asia: Shrines, Journeys and Wanderers. Routledge. ISBN 9781317380009. 
  7. ^ a b Ridgeon, Lloyd, ed. (2014). The Cambridge Companion to Sufism. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781316194294. 
  8. ^ "Sehwan bombing toll reaches 88, over 250 injured". The News. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "37 terrorists killed in security crackdown after Sehwan bombing". The News. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 17 February 2017. At 3.30 am the shrine´s caretaker stood among the carnage and defiantly rang its bell, a daily ritual that he vowed to continue, telling AFP he will "not bow down to terrorists". 
  10. ^ "Pakistani artists perform dhamaal at Sehwan shrine after suicide attack". HIndustan Times. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  11. ^ Hiro, Dilip (2012). Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia. Yale University Press. p. 19. ISBN 9780300183665. 
  12. ^ a b c d "Delay in completion of Sehwan shrine project worries devotees". Dawn. 7 October 2008. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Renovations in Sehwan fall behind as devotees prepare for Urs". The Express Tribune. 6 July 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  14. ^ a b Lieven, Anatol (2012). Pakistan: A Hard Country. PublicAffairs. p. 147. ISBN 9781610391627. 
  15. ^ Metcalf, Barbara (1984). Moral Conduct and Authority: The Place of Adab in South Asian Islam. University of California Press. p. 364. ISBN 9780520046603. 
  16. ^ Albinia, Alice (2010). Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 97. ISBN 9780393338607. 
  17. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  18. ^ Ahmad, Imtiaz (21 February 2017). "Pakistani artists perform dhamaal at Sehwan shrine after suicide attack". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 22 February 2017. The artist said she intended to perform ‘dhamaal’, the ecstatic spiritual dance which the saint used to perform in his life. 
  19. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 35. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  20. ^ "Islamic State Attack Kills at Least 80 at Shrine". US News and World Report. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 17 February 2017. Raja Somro, who witnessed the attack, told a local TV network that hundreds of people were performing a spiritual dance known as the "dhamal" when the bomber struck. 
  21. ^ Albinia, Alice (2010). Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 97. ISBN 9780393338607. 
  22. ^ Dalrymple, William (2010). Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group,. p. 113. ISBN 9780307593597. 
  23. ^ BHAVNANI, NANDITA (2014). THE MAKING OF EXILE: SINDHI HINDUS AND THE PARTITION OF INDIA. Westland. ISBN 9789384030339. 
  24. ^ Albinia, Alice (2010). Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 97. ISBN 9780393338607. 
  25. ^ Albinia, Alice (2010). Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 97. ISBN 9780393338607. 
  26. ^ a b Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  27. ^ a b Kalia, Ravi, ed. (2012). Pakistan: From the Rhetoric of Democracy to the Rise of Militancy. Routledge. p. 54. ISBN 9781136516405. 
  28. ^ Levesque, Julien (2016). Tschacher, Torsten; Dandekar, Deepra, eds. Islam, Sufism and Everyday Politics of Belonging in South Asia. Routledge. p. 216. ISBN 9781317435969. 
  29. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  30. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 30. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  31. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  32. ^ Abbas, Shemeem Burney (2010). The Female Voice in Sufi Ritual: Devotional Practices of Pakistan and India. University of Texas Press. p. 33. ISBN 9780292784505. 
  33. ^ "Quarterly Journal of the Pakistan Historical Society". 51. 2003. 
  34. ^ a b c Hasan, Fawad (31 May 2016). "Lal Shahbaz Urs: A transcendental madness". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  35. ^ a b Osella, Filippo; Osella, Caroline (2013). Islamic Reform in South Asia. Cambridge University Press. pp. 65, 509. ISBN 9781107031753. 
  36. ^ "Lal Shahbaz Qalandar and Pakistan's pluralistic history". Al Jazeera. 18 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  37. ^ "Lal Shahbaz Qalandar". Wikipedia. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  38. ^ "Folk poets preserve culture, moot told". Dawn. 28 May 2016. Retrieved 22 February 2017. 
  39. ^ a b Shokoohy, Mehrdad (1988). Bhadreśvar: The Oldest Islamic Monuments in India. BRILL. p. 14. ISBN 9789004083417.