narrow lane was packed with moved and moving men, young and
old. Bearded and shaven and moustached, turband, capped and
bareheaded. People with bundles and bedding on their shoulders,
on heads. They had come several hundred miles from the remote
village and distant towns to spend the next new days here. People
who had brought their young to be blessed, who had come to pray
long rights and who knew all would be provided.
Drummers and tongs-players, covering-carrying groups were
led by youth who danced and pranced and whirled. They quickened
as the drum quickened. They had come to pay homage, to bow
their heads in gratitude. There were some in green with bangles
on their hands and chains on their ankles who churned the
air with their long hair and the vigorous tossing of their
heads. Groups of aspiring Sufis chanted Allah-Hu in unison.
Some sported empty milk cans, others plastic bags in the hope
of filling them at the Langer-khana, charity kitchen.
On both sides of the lane the small shops were bright with
mercury lights. The wares glittered and gleamed: munds, of
the flowers and petals, of pickles and preserves and silver
foiled, mithai of sugar cakes and sweet assortments, garlands
in rows, attar in vials and kohl in mainature phials. Shops
blaring folk songs, encomiums to the Prophet (pbuh) and Qawwalis.
Gates where tandoor chapattis were being distributed without
charge and shops spreading out their books. On the ground
beads and bangles sellers, ring hawkers who engraved names
while one waited and trinket peddlers. Out on the main roads
cauldrons of oil steamed and sizzled tens of delicacies. There
were clay pots and pottery heaped in hay. There were fortune-telling
parrots and cheep toy vendors. In the green belt of the old
city the Ferris-wheel turned, the circus tent was pitched
and amusement stalls had come up. The sacred and the secular
The shrine and the mosque had been draped in lights. Inside
a more reverent crowd queued to touch the marble window of
the tomb. The coverings shrunk here and slithered like green
snakes, over the heads of he devotees, as they were pulled
at the other end and deposited next the grave to the saint.
Thousands sat on straw mats, praying, meditating, reading
the Quran, reciting verses in praise of the Prophet, the saint.