Celebrations of Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Urs begin as shrines reopen in Sindh

August 12, 2020

After a five-month hiatus, Sindh witnessed the first Urs celebrations of the current year as shrines across the province reopened on Monday, with most of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions lifted...

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After a five-month hiatus, Sindh witnessed the first Urs celebrations of the current year as shrines across the province reopened on Monday, with most of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions lifted by the provincial government.

On March 14 this year, the government had ordered the closure of the shrines along with marriage halls and cinemas across the province as part of its strategy to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.

On Monday, the home department ordered the reopening of the shrines after most of the lockdown restrictions were removed under a countrywide policy. Educational institutions, marriage halls and expo centres are still closed in the province and will be reopen on September 15 provided that the COVID-19 situation remains under control.

The three-day annual Urs of a famous Sufi saint of Sindh, Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, got under way at his shrine in Clifton. This is his 1290th annual Urs. The event, under the patronage of the provincial government, draws large crowds every year. This year, however, the number of shrine visitors will be restricted in view of the precautionary measures in put place by the government against the spread of the coronvirus.

Auqaf Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, along with Auqaf Secretary Haroon Ahmed Khan, formally inaugurated the Urs celebrations on Monday night. A set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) have been notified by the government for the shrines.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said the prospective pilgrims were allowed to visit shrines across the province after due observance of the SOPs to keep them safe from the viral disease. A local holiday is observed every year by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation on the occasion of the Urs.

Information and Religious Affairs Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, who also visited the shrine as part of the Urs celebrations, appreciated that the shrine visitors were following proper SOPs.

He said elaborate security arrangements were in place for safety of the visitors. He recalled that the closure of the shrines and such other sacred places five months ago was a difficult decision for the government, but it was necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said that lately much work had been done to renovate the shrine.

Under the SOPs notified by the government, the shrine visitors are required to wear facial masks while their temperature will checked before entry. Social distancing is a must inside all shrines. The custodian of the shrine is responsible for ensuring observance of all the SOPs. The government could close the shrine if the SOPs are not properly followed. Large congregations like that for Qawwali will not be allowed inside the shrines.

Meanwhile, the Department for Culture, Tourism, Antiquities & Archives has ordered the reopening of all archaeological sites and museums in the province on Tuesday, following a notification issued by the home department a day earlier to lift lockdown measures in the province.



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