The annual Urs of Madhu Lal Hussain ( Mela Chiraghan ) Image: Aun Raza

The annual Urs of Madhu Lal Hussain ( Mela Chiraghan ) Image: Aun Raza


Just adjacent to the fabulous Mughal monument “Shalimar Gardens” in Lahore, is the shrine of a famous Sufi saint Shah Hussain, which is the venue of an annual traditional celebrations full of cultural vehemence and zeal. The festival is locally called as “Mela Chiraghan (the festival of lights)” and it is one of the largest traditional events in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. Mela Chiraghan is three day event full of holy rituals, colors, joy, music and folk dances. One of the most attractive features is the traditional food stalls that are specially designed for this carnival and mark the medieval time food items.

Dhammal with folk drum beats - Mela-Chiraghan ( Image  ©  Nadeem Khawar )
Dhammal with folk drum beats – Mela-Chiraghan ( Image © Nadeem Khawar )

According to an estimate, more than 500,000 pilgrims come to Lahore to attend this impressive annual Urs and the major part of the historic Grand Trunk Road near to the shrine are decorated with stalls, toy shops and food outlets. The most significant ritual is the gathering of the devotees who carry Chiraghs (Light Lamps) in the honor of Shah Hussain and some of the pilgrims also toss the lamps into a huge bonfire. The legend associated with this activity is that the prayers of the devotees will be heard soon by the Almighty and they’ll get the reward.

A sweets stall installed on the eve of Mela Chiraghan - Image  ©  Matloob Ali
A sweets stall installed on the eve of Mela Chiraghan – Image © Matloob Ali

Shah Hussain is also known as Madhu Lal Hussain who was actually the closest Hindu companion of this saint. Shah Hussain is particularly known for his Sufi poetry and his verses in form of short poems are called as Kafis of Shah Hussain. A number of renowned singers and Qawwals of India and Pakistan feel pride to perform the Kafis of Shah Hussain. The nights of Mela Chiraghan of Lahore, the festival of lights are celebrated with Qawwalis and folk dances and these performances are truly spectacular and mirthful.


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