The three-day ‘Urs’ or death anniversary of the 11th century saint Syedna Ali bin Usman Hajveri also known as Data Ganj Buksh (R.A) or simply ‘data sahab’ starts today in Lahore at his mausoleum, popularly known as Data Durbar. Governor Khalid Maqbool and Caretaker Chief Minister Justice (r) Ejaz Nisar will inaugurate the event with the traditional chaddar-laying ceremony and a milk-sabeel (free distribution of milk) at the shrine. As the preparations for the 964th urs are in full swing, security has been beefed up in the city.
It is generally thought that in his lifetime the great saint was called as Gang Bakhsh but afterwards he became too famous as ‘ Data Gang Bakhsh’. Ali Hajvery (R.A.) was a Persian sufi and a scholar. The greatest saintof the sub-continent born in Hajver, a town of Ghazni in Afghanistan, in 1000 A.D (400 H) and died in Lahore in 1063 or 1071A.D. In the course of his spiritual journey to God, he journeyed physically to many countries, including Turkistan, Transoxania, Iran, Iraq, and Syria where he met innumerable Sufis and Sheikhs, many of those have been mentioned in his book ‘Kashf-ul-Mahjoob’.
During the urs the shrine and its whereabouts are beautifully lit. A large number of devotees from different parts of the country besides tens of thousands from the city will visit the Data Darbar to pay their homage by reciting verses from the Holy Quran, qawalees, and recitation of naats and poetry to the saint. Separate arrangements are made for women to visit the shrine. ‘Langer Khana’ (distributing free food) and milk sabeel also attract a large number of people. The tradition of milk-sabeels traces its roots to a time when the people of Lahore used to give tax in the form of milk to the city keeper Ray Raju Jogi. Legend has it that when Hazrat Data Gunj Baksh arrived in Lahore, he stopped them from this practice. As a result, their businesses flourished and followers began giving the milk to the saint to give to the needy. Today, milkmen continue the practice by donating milk to destitutes.
Sultan al-Hind Hazrat Khwaja Moeenuddin Chishti paid his homageto Data Ganj buksh in the following words:
Ganj Bakhsh-e faiz-e aalam, mazhar-e Noorr-i Khuda
Naqisaan ra peer-e kaamil, kaamilan ra rahnuma
“The bestower of treasure (Ganj Bakhsh) in both the worlds, the reflector of the splendour of God, An accomplished spiritual guide for the learned and a guide for the ignorant”.