Just adjacent to the fabulous Shalamar Gardens in Lahore is the shrine of 16th century famous sufi saint, Shah Hussain, which is the venue of an annual traditional celebration full of cultural zeal and color. The Festival is locally called as “Mela Chiraghan” or the Fesival of Lamps and it is one of the largest traditional events of the Punjab province. Mela Chiraghan is celebrated during the last week of March and this three day event is full of holy rituals, joy, music and folk dances. One of the most attractive features is the traditional food stalls that are specially designed for this carnival.
Thousands of devotees come to Lahore to attend this impressive annual Urs and major part of the Grand Trunk Road near to the shrine are decorated with stalls, toy shops and food outlets. The most significant ritual is the gathering of devotees who carry Chiraghs (light lamps) in the honor of Shah Hussain and some of the pilgrims toss lamps into a huge bonfire. The legend associated with this activity is that prayers of the devotees will be heard soon by the Almighty and they will get the reward.
Shah Hussain is also known as Madhu Lal Hussain who was actually the closest Hindu companion of the saint. Shah Hussain is particularly known for his sufi poetry and his verses in form of short poems are called Kafis of Shah Hussain. A number of renowned singers and Qawwals of Pakistan feel pride to perform Kafis of Shah Hussain. The nights of Mela Chiraghan of Lahore, the Fesival of Lights, are celebrated with Qawwalis and folk dances and these dances are truly spectacular and mirthful.