The business of giving a makeover to the resting place – Pakistan


SAHIWAL: Ali Ahmed with his wife Hafeezain Bibi and their three children arrive from 79/4-R village to Mai Shah Cemetery for grave repairs in the first 10 days of Muharram.

People visiting the graves of their loved ones hire the couple to revamp the resting places with a new layer of clay mixed with straw.

Ali is not the only one to offer his services to the cemetery. More than 100 laborers from surrounding villages camp at the site during Ashura on the Jamia Rasheedia road for mud paste from the tombs.

They say each family earns Rs3,000 to Rs4,000 per day.

There is a tradition among families to visit cemeteries and lay flowers on the graves of their family members during Muharram and Eid days. This is an opportunity to have the graves damaged by the rains repaired.

Mai Shah Cemetery is a home for the graves of both Shias and Sunnis.

Chaudhry Latif said most families visit the graves of their loved ones during Muharram and Eid days and have them repaired every year.

Saima Ahmed and her nine-year-old daughter, Ramsha, arrived from the city of Farid to the graves of her parents, aunt and uncle to pay their respects on 9 Muharram.

She said she bought flowers to put on the graves. Later, many workers surrounded her, offering their services for the mud coating of the tombs.

Worker Ali said Dawn that for the past 15 years he has been regularly camping at the cemetery during Muharram and repairing graves.

His wife Hafeezain Bibi said it was difficult to stay in improvised places on the road in wet weather but they would earn more than 20,000 rupees in those 10 days.

Their day begins with a humble breakfast of tea and biscuits. Later, they feed the family with the charity food distributed by visitors.

Ali said that he and his wife are actually road workers and are employed in Mirpurkhas and Muzaffarabad with different road contractors.

It charges Rs300 to Rs500 for a grave pastry. They have a plastic bag, a plastic cane and a bag of dry straw. After the deal is done, Ali goes to fetch water while Hafeezan prepares the clay. The couple stick the clay on the graves while their children watch them work.

Posted in Dawn, August 9, 2022


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