Baba Chamliyal mela on Indo-Pak border unlikely to be held this year

Holy Shrine of Baba Chamliyal in Ramgarh sector locked from outside. -Excelsior/ Badyal
Holy Shrine of Baba Chamliyal in Ramgarh sector locked from outside. -Excelsior/ Badyal

Avtar Bhat
SAMBA, June 6: The much famed annual fair of Baba Chamliyal on Indo -Pak International border in Ramgarh Sector of this district will not be held this year due to outbreak of Corona pandemic.
According to highly placed sources, there are over 90 percent chances that mela will be cancelled this year too in view of the spread of global Coronavirus. No ceremony will be held on International Border this year nor the famous Shakkar and Sharbat -a holy gift of Baba’s shrine will be handed over to Pak Rangers by Border Security Force (BSF) for the third consecutive term this time in view of the outbreak of COVID-19.
The annual fair of Baba Chamliyal in village Chamliyal on Indo -Pak border is falling on June 24 and thousands of people from different parts of J&K and other States of country converge at the holy shrine to pay their obeisance to Baba on the occasion and present their offerings at his shrine.
The BSF which guards the IB takes the care of all arrangements including the security during the mela. Pilgrims visiting the shrine are subjected to thorough security check up by BSF as well as the local police to avert any untoward incident. Baba Chamliyal a great saint of the area is being revered by both Hindus and Muslims in the entire border belt, sources said.
After the unfortunate partition of the country in 1947 the areas which went to Pakistan also celebrated the mela on their side with much fan fare and enthusiasm. Since then a tradition started that Pak Rangers along with some prominent citizens of Pakistan ‘ visit this side to offer the Chadder ( a blanket) at the holy shrine where from they take Shakkar and Sharbat a holy gift of the Baba to be distributed among the devotees on their side who still highly revered the Baba.
Earlier, Mela was not held in 2018 after the Pakistan attacked a BSF party in which four BSF personnel including one Assistant Commandant, two Sub-Inspectors and a constable had attained martyrdom in the month of June. This was viewed seriously by Government of India and the authorities cancelled the celebration of fair at Chamliyal that year.
No Shakkar and Sharbat from the Shrine was sent to Pakistan nor any Chadder was entertained from Pak Rangers to this side that year. The fair though was held last year but neither Shakkar and Sharbat nor Chadder was exchanged as per tradition by BSF and Pak Rangers for the second time, said Charan Dass alias Bilu Choudhary Panch Chhani Fatwal and Chairman Baba Chamliyal Committee.
He said the mela on Indian side is held at least for 20 days and Langers for devotees visiting the shrine were from June 4 and the followers of the Baba from different parts of the UT of J&K and outside start thronging the holy shrine 20 days in advance of Mela to pay their obeisance. He said on the mela day over one lakh devotees pay obeisance at the shrine.
Choudhary said that in Pakistan side in Saidanwali village across the border, the mela is also held for about one week and there is also heavy rush of the devotees who highly revered the Baba.
He said “Due to border skirmishes in 2018 and Pak misadventure, the Shakkar and Sharbat was not offered to Pakistan by our side nor they were allowed to offer Chadder at the shrine of Baba. But this time due to Coronavirus threat, the mela is unlikely be held so far as the feed, back received by the Committee from Government side is concerned”.
He said, “Had the mela to be held this year, the devotees would have started thronging the shrine by now but so far nobody has come here”.
“The annual cleanliness of the shrine premises was started today but as per the feedback which the Committee received from the administration, the Mela will not be held this year due to spread of Coronavirus as authorities do not want to take any risk”, he added.
When contacted, a BSF officer said that there are over 90 percent chances that the mela will be cancelled this year as no process has been initiated by now to hold the mela at the holy shrine which as per routine should have begin by the start of this month.
The temple of Baba Ji is totally locked at present and there is no movement of devotees at the shrine except a Pujari who offers pooja in the morning and evening as per routine while in previous years rush of devotees was seen during these days at the holy shrine, said the local people of the area.
They added the pilgrims from Pakistan every year assemble at the Saidanwali village, on other side of the International Border to celebrate the mela. Before the 1971 Indo – Pak war, Pakistanis were permitted to visit this side of the border. It is said that Mela Chamliyal is organized to commemorate Baba Dalip Singh Manhas a great spiritual saint of the area every year in the month of June in the Chamliyal village.
Baba Chamliyal, after whom the village is named, lived about 320 years ago and is revered by the people of all faiths. The shrine is barely one and a half kilometers from the Zero Line. In the village of Saidanwali on the Zero Line of the Pakistan side, people arrange a week-long Mela and wait for sacred ‘Sharbat’ and ‘Shakkar’ from the shrine of Baba Chamliyal.