At Chamliyal border festival in Jammu, devotees miss participation by Pakistanis

The Chamliyal Mela at the Dargah of Baba Dilip Singh Manhas was celebrated Thursday with religious fervor near the international border in Samba, but without Indians and Pakistani’s exchanging ‘shakar and sharbat’.

The 320-years old traditional Mela was observed without any participation by people from the other side of the border in Pakistan for the second consecutive.

Since 1947, the Sufi festival was annually organised at the Zero Line jointly by the BSF and Pakistan Rangers because of devotees of Baba Chamliyal on both sides of the border.

According to historical accounts, Baba Dalip Singh Manhas was murdered and his body was cut in two pieces. The head lies in Saidanwali village of Sailkot district on the Pakistan side of the border while his body was buried in Chamliyal on the Indian side.

On Thursday, thousand of devotees for Jammu and other neighbouring northern states thronged the border shrine, revered in both Indian and Pakistani.

Last year, the famous fair at the shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas, a saint popularly known as Baba Chamliyal, in Samba district was cancelled following killing of four BSF personnel in firing by Pakistani Rangers.

The locals of Ramghar village organised annual fair with help of civil administration, after the Border Security Force refused, which earlier conducted the event, refused to conduct it.

“People in large numbers from the state and outside participated in the fair with enthusiasm and sought blessings of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas,” said Mohinder Singh, a local resident.

“In past, Pakistani devotes would come in large numbers near zero line and offer ‘Chadar’ at the Dargah but due to non-involvement of security forces (BSF), the event didn’t happen.”

Devotees felt the absence of their Pakistani counterparts who in the earlier years would would join the fair in good numbers by offering ‘Chadar at Dargah’ and in return get ‘Sharbat’ (sweet water) and ‘Shakkar’ (soil) as ‘parsad’.

“The followers of Baba Chamliyal are more in Pakistan than in India. I don’t remember any year when this fair was called off. Today, when we offered ‘Chadar’ at Dargah on behalf on our Pakistani brothers, we actually missed them,” said Sohan Lal.

He however backed the government decision and said until Pakistan “mends its ways” the joint festival should not be allowed.

Santosh Kumar, the priest of the shrine said that people offered special prayers at the Dargah so that peace prevails between India and Pakistan.

Former minister and National Conference leader, Surjeet Singh Slathia, also paid obeisance at Chamliyal shrine and prayed for peace and tranquility in the state and the country.

“Suffis and saints have all along shown the path of righteousness, love and brotherhood, which is core of every religion,” Slathia said while interacting with devotees.