Traditional folk artists perform during the 274th urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. PHOTO:INP
HYDERABAD: With conspicuous fervour of devotees and flavours of the sufi event, the 274th urs celebration of Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai commenced in Bhit Shah, Matiari district on Saturday. Thousands of people will visit the small town along the National Highway, some 50 kilometres off Hyderabad, during the three-day celebrations featuring prayers, music, exhibition, cattle shows, sports and literary events.
One of the new attractions at the festival was a 16-foot statue of Bhitai depicting the saint wearing a turban and playing dambur – a five-stringed musical instrument which he modified in the 18th century from the central Asia’s tambur. It has been temporarily placed at Bhit Shah’s official guest house, where Sindh Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Sardar Ali Shah and custodian of Bhitai’s shrine Syed Waqar Hussain Shah inaugurated the sculpture on Saturday.
Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s urs inaugurated
The statue will later be relocated to the centre of the Qarar Lake. Assistant professor Nadir Ali Jamali of Sindh University’s institute of art and design took 10 months to complete this piece of art which has been coloured in a monotone whitish hue.
“I feel honoured to be at a place where the message of peace, love, pluralism and religious harmony was spread,” said the culture minister. Referring to Bhitai’s poetry and its cherished universality, Sardar said that even after 274 years of his death, the sufi poet’s popularity is spreading globally, with many scholars conducting research on his poetry and music.
And in between, lies the door
Sindh’s acting governor Agha Siraj Durrani officially inaugurated the urs by laying a chaddar and offering fateha at the shrine. He, accompanied by provincial ministers and officials, later attended the rendition of Bhitai’s poetry and music in the shrine’s courtyard in a performance by a choir. Durrani later inaugurated the cultural village and agricultural exhibition.
A musical night will be held on each of the three days of the urs celebrations. An international literature conference, a conference of folk, traditional wrestling, horse racing and cattle shows, among other activities, are being organised to provide a range of entertainment to visitors.
Mian Muhammad Bakhsh’s Urs today
The 274th urs is the second largest sufi saint festival to be held in Sindh since the February 16 suicide blast at the shrine of Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar. According to the district administration, some 2,500 personnel under supervision of 17 deputy superintendents of police and 100 Rangers have been deployed in the town.
As many as 32 closed circuit television cameras have been installed for surveillance while six walk through gates have been placed at the shrine’s entrance. The bomb disposal squad, fire brigade and ambulances have also been stationed in the town.
Video shows angry pilgrims in heated exchange with religious minister over inadequate facilities
Sardar said that strict security measures have been put in place and gave reference of the United States where despite hi-tech security terrorist activities take place. “Terrorism and extremism have become a global problem,” he added.
Read more: 274th urs , Agha Siraj Durrani , Bhit Shah
"Bhittai" redirects here. For other uses, see Bhittai Colony.
Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (also referred to by the honorifics: Lakhino Latif, Latif Ghot, Bhittai, and Bhitt Jo Shah) (18 November 1689 – 1 January 1752) (Sindhi: شاه عبداللطيف ڀٽائي, Urdu: شاہ عبداللطیف بھٹائی) was a noted SindhiSufi scholar, mystic, saint, and poet, widely considered to be the greatest Muslim poet of the Sindhi language. His collected poems were assembled in the compilation Shah Jo Risalo, which exists in numerous versions and has been translated into English, Urdu, and other languages. His work has been compared frequently to that of the Persian poet Rūmī. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an emeritus professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, described Shah Latif as a "direct emanation of Rūmī's spirituality in South Asia." He is also known as the poet of Sindh.
Shah Abdul Latif was born to Shah Habib in the village of Hala Haveli, a few miles to the east of the present town of Bhit Shah (named after him), on November 18, 1690 CE. Latif was raised during the golden age of Sindhi culture. His first teacher was Akhund Noor Muhammad Bhatti although he was largely self-educated. Although he received little formal education, the Risalo provides proof that he was well-versed in Arabic and Persian. The Qur'an, the Hadiths, the Masnawi of Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi, along with the collection of Shah Karim's poems, were his constant companions, copious references to which are made in the Shah Jo Risalo.
His correspondence in Persian with contemporary scholar Makhdoom Moinuddin Thattvi, as contained in the Risala-i-Owaisi, bears witness to his scholastic competence:
Beloved's separation kills me friends,
At His door, many like me, their knees bend.
From far and near is heard His beauty's praise,
My Beloved's beauty is perfection itself.
— Bhittai [Sur Yaman Kalyan]
In his poems he writes about Sindh and its neighboring regions, he mentions distant cities such as Istanbul and Samarqand as well as Sindhi sailors (Samundi), their navigation techniques, voyages as far as the Malabar coast, Sri Lanka and the island of Java.
Clouds return and once again, it rains, Lighting's flash from all sides, and with them, Some go to Istanbul others turn to the west, Some shine bright over China and others take care of, Samarqand, some wandered to Rome, to Kabul and Kandahar, some lie on Delhi, Deccan thundering over... My beloved Allah, may you always make Sindh, a land of abundance, my beloved Allah, may you make prosperous the whole universe.
Most of the information on the life of Bhittai has been collected from oral traditions. A Pakistani scholar, educationist, and a writer of plays, dramas and stories, Mirza Kalich Beg has collected details about the early life of Shah Bhittai from the dialogues that he has constantly held with some of the old folks, still living at that time, who knew these facts from their fathers and grandfathers for they had seen Shah Latif in person and had even spoken to him.
The next day I sat down, and listened to the
Story of the "Vairagis."
Their salmon-coloured clothes were covered with dust.
The lonely ones never talk to anyone about their being.
They move about unmarked amongst the common folk.
— Shah Latif Bhittai
A 16-foot-high statue of Bhitai was unveiled in front of the Bhit shah rest house on the occasion of his 274th urs. The statue was sculpted by Nadir Ali Jamali, who is associated with the fine arts department of the University of Sindh. It is planned to be permanently put up at the centre of the Karar Lake next to the Bhitai shrine. It took ten months to complete.
In popular culture
The Urs commences every year from 14th Safar (2nd month of Hijra calendar) and lasts for three days. 
In 2017, the 274th Urs of Shah Abdul Latif began at Bhit Shah, and Mai Dhai, Abida Parveen and many other singers and artists performed. The ceremony's opening was done by interim Governor Sindh.
- Butani, D. H. 1991. The Melody and Philosophy of Shah Latif. Promilla and Co., New Delhi. ISBN 81-85002-14-2
- Sorally, H.T. 1967. Shah Abdul Latif of Bhit: His Poetry, Life and Times. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0196360293
Coordinates: 25°48′24.21″N68°29′28.76″E / 25.8067250°N 68.4913222°E / 25.8067250; 68.4913222