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What is the main function of the urs of Baba Farid?

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The main function of this urs is the opening of the "Blessed Door". Millions devotees participate in this festival.

The Shrine of Baba Farid (Punjabi and Urdu: بابا فرید درگاہ‎) is a 13th-century Sufi shrine located in Pakpattan, Pakistan, that is dedicated to the Sufi mystic Fariduddin Ganjshakar, popularly known as Baba Farid. The shrine is one of the most important in Pakistan,[1] and was among the first Islamic holy sites in South Asia[2] – providing the region's Muslims a local focus for devotion.[2] The shrine is also revered by Sikhs, who include Baba Farid's poetry into the Guru Granth Sahib - regarded by Sikhs to be the eternal Guru.[3]

The shrine played a central role in the conversion of local tribes to Islam over the course of several centuries.[4] Chiefs of the highly revered shrine once controlled a politically autonomous state that was defended by soldiers drawn from local clans that pledged loyalty to the shrine and descendants of Baba Farid.[2] Today the shrine is considered to be the most significant in Punjab,[1] and attracts up to two million visitors to its annual urs festival

Location

The shrine is located in the town of Pakpattan, in the Pakistani province of Punjab, near the right bank of the Sutlej River.

Background

Turkish settlers had arrived in the region around Pakpattan in the 13th century a result of pressures from the expanding Mongol Empire,[2] and so the city already had a Muslim community with its own mosque by the time of Baba Farid's arrival. Baba Farid established a Jama Khana, or convent, in what was then known as Ajodhan that attracted large masses of devotees who would gather at the convent daily in hopes of securing ta'widh, or written blessings and amulets.[2] Devotees would in turn offer a futuh, or gift to the shrine in return.[2]

By the 13th century, the belief that the spiritual powers of great Sufi saints were attached to their burial sites was widespread in the Muslim world,[2] and so a shrine was built to commemorate the burial site of Baba Farid after he died in 1265.

In keeping with Sufi tradition in Punjab, the shrine maintains influence over smaller shrines throughout the region around Pakpattan that are dedicated to specific events in Baba Farid's life.[6] The secondary shrines form a wilayat, or a "spiritual territory" of the shrine,[6] with Pakpattan serving as the capital of Baba Farid's spiritual territory, or wilayat.[6] The shrine and its wilayat also bound local tribes together with a collective identity based on reverence for the shrine.

History

Establishment

By the time of Baba Farid's death, the belief that the spiritual powers saints were attached to their burial sites was widespread in the Muslim world,[2] and so following the death of Baba Farid in 1265, a shrine was built at the place of his burial near his convent. The shrine complex eventually grew to encompass not only the tomb itself, but also a mosque, a langar, and several other related buildings.[2]

In 1281, Sheik Ala ad-Din Mauj Darya was appointed as spiritual successor of Baba Farid. Under his authority, the shrine's popularity grew spectacularly,[2] and the countryside around the shrine began to revere the shrine.[7] In 1315, the Sufi mystic Amir Khusrow noted in detail that the 50th anniversary of Baba Farid's death was celebrated by an urs festival which attracted devotees who heard recitations of the saints deeds, and were treated to entertainment by an ensemble of dervishes.[2]

Various secondary shrines devoted to Baba Farid also began to be established around the 14th century that extended the shrine's spiritual territory, or wilayat,[2] though the shrines were built by commoners, rather than royal patrons.[2] The network of shrines defined tracts in Punjab as being areas belonging to the spiritual kingdom of Baba Farid, where spiritual powers of the saint could protect travelers.[2] It was noted that beyond borders of Baba Farid's wilayat lay the wilayat belonging to the Shrine of Bahauddin Zakariya in Multan
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