I’m not a huge fan of shrines, however, I like visiting them whenever I get a chance. It was a few years ago, in Lahore, with a bunch of friends, I had visited some shrine that was located inside the narrow streets. Even at night the streets were flooded with lights, fragrance and were bustling with enthusiastic people.
My friends bought rose garlands, candles etc. I had left my handbag with my (other) friends who chose to stay in the bus, because I was told it isn’t safe taking handbags, wallets and other valuable items in there for pickpockets are more than active at such places; so one of the friends was generous enough to bought me candles too from the nearby shop.
We stepped inside the shrine – imagine I didn’t bother reading the board at the top of the entrance – perhaps since I was visiting any shrine after a long time and crowded places tend to put me off anyway. So the inside floor was marbled – people including women and children were sitting next to the walls. We offered Fateha at the grave(s). I peeped inside the window and saw the grave being inundated in the red/pink rose petals. I had never seen so many rose petals before.
The fragrance of the petals alone sent me into strange sort of trance – so I literally, jerked my head and moved on with eyes wide open. Then the girls lit the candles in one corner. That was such a black, filthy corner, where hundreds of candles were alight and the plethora of sticky wick looked creepy. Quite frankly, I didn’t understand the lighting of candles. Anyway, I roamed around for a while and then we got back to our bus.
The irony is that I’ve visited Lahore many times but never got a chance to visit Daata Darbar. So – I never bothered to discover for years as to which shrine I had visited that chilly December evening.
One day I was talking with a friend – our conversation floated and converge on the Sufism and shrines. I told her about my almost blind visit to some shrine in Lahore – she sent me the link – I checked the photo and viola – years later I finally found out that I had actually visited the shrine of Bibi Paak Daaman.
Today, weirdly, I’m missing both Bibi Paak Daaman’s shrine as well as that (ever mysterious & elusive) friend – no, not the one who took me there – but the one, who revealed the name of that shrine.