The 198th annual Urs of Sufi saint and poet Hazrat Sachal Sarmast began at his shrine in Daraza Sharif near Ranipur on Sunday. The three-day Urs celebrations would continue till Ramazan 15 (Tuesday). According to sources, stringent security measures have been taken for annual Urs of Sachal Sarmast. The shrine’s custodian would officially open the urs celebrations by laying a floral wreath on the saint’s grave and showering with rosewater. The devotees have started arriving at the shrine of Sachal Sarmast at Daraza Sharif to attend the Urs ceremonies. Daraza Sharif is a small town near Ranipur in district Khairpur. Sachal Sarmast was a Sufi poet born in Daraza, Sindh in 1739. His real name was Abdul Wahab Farooqui and he used the pennames “Sachal” or “Sachoo” in his poetry. He died in 1829. Sachal’s father had died, when he was a child. He was later raised by his uncle, Abdul Haq, who also became his spiritual master. Sarmast wrote poetry in seven languages and was thus called “Shair-e-Haft Zaban.” His Sindhi and Saraiki poetry, in particular, is sung widely by local singers. The Sufi was a follower of Wahdat-ul-Wujood (unity of existence); a notion of Sufi worldview. The annual Urs celebrations would comprise of several events including Mehfil-e-Sama, a literary conference at the Daraza Sharif auditorium, and a Mushaira. To commemorate the occasion, Sachal Awards would also be presented to eminent personalities of the country. Sugharanji Katchery and traditional Sindhi games are also said to be a part of the Urs celebrations.