‘Ladies of Purity’ remembered | Pakistan Today

‘Ladies of Purity’ remembered

Among many other things Lahore is famous for, shrines of sufi saints are also included in its rich culture.
One of the most visited shrines in city is Bibi Pak Daman in Garhi Shahu area of Lahore.
The number of visitors increases manifolds in months of Muharram, Ramadan and Jamadiul Thani. First two are the holy months when devotees flock the shrine to offer prayers while Jamadiul Thani is month when urs of Bibi Pak Daman is celebrated. Three day urs celebrations are observed from 7 Jamadiul Thani to 9th of the same month.
The shrine is located at the end to busy Empress Road part of which is filled with shops selling devout literature and tasbeehs (prayer beads) among other things.
According to legendary sayings, the 1000-year-old shrine of Bibi Pak Daman is last resting place of 6 ladies from the of ménage Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). These six women were said to have travelled all the way from Iraq to Sub Continent after the events of Karbala. They included daughter of Hazrat Ali Ruqayah binte Ali the forth caliph of Islam, sisters and daughters of Hazrat Muslim bin Aqeel. These ladies are considered one of the earlier sources of Islam in sub-continent.
It is also believed that Hazrat Data Ganj Bakhsh was a devotee of Bibi Pak Daman sanctuary himself. Legends have it that the ruler of Lahore tried to arrest the six women but on prayer of Ruqayah Binte Ali the earth swallowed the holy women. A part of the Ruqayah’s shawl was left above the ground which also disappeared beneath surface when soldiers tried to touch that.
Not very religious people even visit the place in large numbers as the remains of six women from family of last Prophet are believed to be buried here. The street and shrine area remain filled with devotees all the day. On the eve or Urs, the shrine is even more crowded.
People from across the country, mainly from Province of Punjab, come to the shrine to pay their homage and make a wish which they believe would come true if made there according to shrine’s rituals. The ritual is to eat the sweet being distributed at shrine having a ring inside which is worn until wish comes true. The special sweet with a ring inside is also available at nearby shops and devotees also distribute it to others.
There are many sweet shops and stalls around the shrine but more are set up for Urs celebrations keeping in view the large number of devotees coming there.
Though a diverse population takes part in celebrations of Urs however a larger chunk belongs to Shiite school of thought therefore many stalls have items like Noha CDs, Karbala related literature, black flags and bracelets. Some drug addicts and criminals also take refuge in the premises of shrine by disguising themselves as malangs. The use of opium is also common on the shrine like all others in city and the number of addicts has also increased on Urs.
A sweet shop owner Mazhar said Urs days were good for his business. He said the number of visitors increased four times in these three days and he earned a good profit as devotees prefer to buy sweets for distribution and for their family.
Security measures have also been beefed up after arrival of Urs at the shrine, and more than 3,000 policemen have been deputed for safeguarding the area and maintaining law and order. CCPO Aslam Tareen has directed the officials to arrange for a parking area at a safe distance, preferably 200 metres, from the shrine, and ensure presence of mobile squads and Elite Force at the majalis (religious gatherings).