The Jhiri Mela is an annual fair held in J&K in the name of Baba Jitu, a simple and honest farmer who preferred to kill himself rather than submit to the unjust demands of the local landlord to part with his crop. This Jhiri mela celebrated in Jhiri, a village 15kms away from the Jammu city is a salute to the courage of a farmer and his sacrifice for the liberation of the farming community.
The Jhiri Mela celebrates honesty, innocence, humility and stands for courage, culture and truthfulness. Legend has it that the zamindar demanded a major share of the wheat crop from Jit Mal, a poor farmer. Since the peasant had toiled hard to cultivate the crop he did not want to yield to this unjust demand. Rather than parting with his crop, Jit Mal preferred to take the extreme step of ending his life over the heap of wheat. He has ever since been venerated as Baba Jittoo and is revered for standing up against the injustice and unfair treatment meted out to the peasantry during the feudal times. Every year, the fair is held to pay tribute to father and her seven year old daughter Bua Kouri who set herself ablaze on the pyre of her father Baba Jitu. Lakhs of tourists from all over the India gather during the Jhiri Mela to pay tribute to the Samadhis.
In addition to being a religious event, the mela also provide marketing outlet to the local sugarcane growers. As the area is famous for sugarcane crop, most of visitors in mela purchase sugarcane and take it along with them. People from all over India come to Jammu during the time of Jhiri Mela to pay homage to Baba Jitu and his holy soul. During the fair, exhibitions are organized that cater to diverse variety of articles ranging from pottery, vases, utensils and toys to books on Baba Jitu. Entertainment and rural sports like dangal (wrestling) also form an important feature of the fair For the people coming from all over India, one important ritual during the Jhiri Mela is to take a holy dip in ‘Babe- da- Talab’ (the saint’s pond) which is known to have miraculous powers for curing skin disorders. Jhiri Mela is celebrated every year in the months of October November. It lasts for almost seven days and is an exemplary experience for all its visitors.
MELA OF BABA CHAMLIYAL
Chamliyal is a village situated in the Ramgarh sector of district Samba, in Jammu. The village, very close to the international Indo-Pak border hosts an annual fare so as to commemorate Baba Dilip Manhas, popularly known as Baba Chamliyal. The yearly Mela at the Shrine of Baba Chamliyal is organized with religious zeal as thousands of followers come from all over the state and outer areas to search for the blessings and healing for spiritual and physical ailments.
The exceptional feature of this fair is that Baba Chamliyal is honored by people on both the sides of the international boundary. People of all religious conviction come to the shrine as a large crowd during the celebrations held on the fourth Thursday of June every year. At this juncture, sweets are distributed to start the annual festivity of the Mela of Baba Chamliyal. Thousands of pilgrims stand on either sides of the border to see a glimpse of the ceremony of offering of a Chaddar to the officers of BSF by the rangers of Pakistan to lay this Chaddar on the Dargah of the Baba Chamliyal.
This divine Baba Chamliyal Mela is being celebrated since last 320 years on either sides of the International boundary. The BSF for India and its antitype Pakistan’s Chenab Rangers mainly handle the yearly fair and helps people on both side of the border to receive the sacred ‘Sharbat’ and ‘Shakkar’, which are considered to have healing properties against different skin ailments. As pilgrims from Pakistan are not permitted to cross the border of India and Pakistan, every year they assemble at the Saidanwali village, situated on the international boundary. Before the war between India and Pakistan in the year 1971, Pakistanis were permitted to visit India’s side of the boundary, but now the border police called Pakistani Rangers are permitted to take part in the fair and they offers Chaddar on behalf of the Pakistani populace.
People from different state of India like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan etc. come to the Holy Dargah of Baba Chamliyal to show their gratitude at the Shrine and also to enjoy the Baba Chamliyal Mela. Different stalls of Agriculture, handlooms, Horticulture, Animal husbandry, handicrafts, and the stalls of social welfare and employment departments are installed there at the Mela compound to make people alert about the plans which are put into practice by the various departments.
The Chamliyal mela is a perfect example of religious harmony and the fact that despite the artificial borders created between the two nation, both the people of India and Pakistan share common traditions and thus hold a lot of reverence for each other.