Baba Laal Shah was born in 1904 in village Sorasi Syedan in the Murree Hills. Every year thousands of people from across the country visit his shrine to observe the urs of Baba Laal Shah. Unlike other saints, the organisers have fixed the days of the urs that is specifically held in the summers — June 11-13 to be precise — making it a comfortable trip to beat the scorching summer.
Baba was said to be a majzoob who, as the myth goes, lived virtually in snow without any sort of clothing on. His mythical powers were acknowledged in his lifetime and there used to at least a hundred and fifty devotees visiting him everyday. Like many other contemporary pirs, he too carried a stick and it is said that whoever among the ‘believers’ was hit by this stick, his prayer was granted.
Politicians, it seems, have a special liking for stick-wielding pirs and this one had none other than Gen. Ayub Khan among his followers.
If you go to Patriata near Murree on the National Highway, a small road on the left leads you to Sorasi Syedan. This year, the saint’s 48th urs was celebrated. The shrine and the surrounding hills wear the look of a mela. People from all over the Punjab province attend the urs but it is said that the place turns into a mela after devotees from Lahore enter.
Unlike other shrines, this one seems a little too male-dominated and one does not see as many women and children as at other places. One reason why more women frequent some shrines owes to the special gift of fertility.
Unfortunately, there are no proper residential or hotel facilities around the shrine. So, most people opt to install camps on the hills and prepare their own meals. There is scarcity of drinking water as well as water for sanitation. Scenes of litter are common as people do not care for the environment and leave the place full of garbage, assuming that all the waste will vanish with landslides or rains.
Syed Fazal Hussnain Shah Kazmi, grandson of Baba Laal Shah, is the gadinasheen (caretaker) of the shrine.