In this chillingly cold weather, all the bare-foot devotees enter the premises of the Darbar after queuing up for hours on the streets of once-upon-a-time Ayodhan, later named Pak-Pattan – cleansed brink of River (Satluj) – by Akbar the Great after it was 'declared 'Pak' by Shaikh-ul-Islam Gunj-e-Shakar (RA)'.
More than one lakh people in one night pass through the Darwaaza while chanting 'Haq Fareed' and dancing to the tunes of their purified hearts. Those who come out of the Noori Darwaaza – exit point of the shortest possible penultimate journey from the Behishti to the Noori – wear no signs of tiredness; rather they feel re-invigorated to face worldly life. Why is it so? To a few's naked eyes, it is nothing but one is travelling a long distance to reach Pakpattan, bearing with police harshness and abuse, braving extremity of the weather and endangering his life. Whereas for the 'seeing' eyes, it is a spiritual journey, which is giving impetus to people for ensuring their Hazri (presence) at the Gunj-e-Shakar Darbar. Fullstop! If it dawns to one's heart that his Hazri has been given a nod from the highest office of the Chistya Silsila, his joy knows no bounds, and he feels re-enlivened to face life.
Interestingly, the push and pull they bear, the police attitude and long wait are part of the spiritual cleansing. They do not mind tolerating the extremities because they are aiming for some thing higher. "These are nothing when it comes to achieving heart's contentment and pleasure. No worldly wealth can buy this for us. I queued myself to pass through the Behishti Darwaaza at 4 pm for the 5th time in life, but this time with my five-year-old son Ali Murad," said Ijaz Ahmed Malhi, who had travelled from Kot Addu for six hours. Is he tired? He was not; rather he was visibly happy while holding his Ali in his lap, and covering him with his chaddhar to protect the child from freezing temperature.
Youngsters can tread difficult paths, and brave excruciating times, but those who have worn out their years, are not far behind. One can see jubilant old people, who would not have walked a few yards sans any support in ordinary life yet they are here to ensure their Hazri. 80-year-old Mansha has come to the City again for the time even uncountable to him. "I cannot hold myself back and stay home, when the Behishti Darwaaza is opened. I am here and will be next year, provided He (pointing his finger to the sky) allowed me," he said.
There are groups of Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists roaming in the City after passing through the Behishti Darwaaza. They were feeling as if they had gone through pilgrimage (journey to Nankana Sahab and bathe at the Golden Temple), Ashnan (bathe at the Ganga) and Tarasha (remove all body hair, or have seen Buddha with their naked eyes) respectively for Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. Question is: Why are they here, and on whose invitation? "We are accepted by the Baba Sahab Gunj-e-Shakar (RA), and he blesses us whenever we are here. We feel cleansed," said Ajeet Singh Gill, who will remain in the City till the 10th of Moharram.
The devotees can be artificially divided into three groups – ordinary – queuing up for hours – VIPs – above than the ordinary and lower than the last group, that is, the VVIPs. It is so depending upon the protocol they get from the administration. "This classification is by the worldly, for the worldly and of the worldly. I personally perceive that this queuing journey is for the Baba Sahab, who sees through hearts, and hence the devotees get contentment depending upon the effort, which is the gist of the philosophy behind the Behishti Darwaaza," said Mahi Sain, who thinks that real VVIPs for the Baba Sahab are those who are being treated ordinarily by the worldly, and are in queues.This journey comprises trials and tribulations, pains and gains, which one undertakes for seeking tolerance, patience and love for humanity for a soulful life. The longer, harder and harsher this journey is, higher are the gains. Otherwise easy come, easy go!