Rajinder Chand Anthal
The celebration of Melas, Kudds, Jattars, and festivals is a conspicuous part of social religious and cultural heritage of people of Duggar land. These are celebrated with great pomp and show in every part of this land of farmers and warriors.
In the Duggar hinterland, we see one or the other Mela or religious event taking place throughout the year with participation of people from all walks of life. Majority of these celebrations are held in honour of local Gods for the welfare of mankind and safety of crops and livestock etc. It is generally believed that the local gods safeguard against the evil designs of Jogans and Dyans etc. In the series of these events, the Baisakhi, Sudhmahadev, Sankri Devta, Buda- Kedar-Nath, Budi-Sudhi, Naina Devi, Dera Top, Benisang and Yug Dhar Melas are the prominent melas of Chennai area.
Yug Dhar enjoys commanding position in the lower Shivalik range of mountains. The height of this place is higher than Patnitop and vast area upto Jammu and beyond are clearly visible during the night from this picturesque place. The long lush green meadows of grazing fields of Yug Dhar speak volumes of magnificent enchanting atmosphere of this place. Extending from upper reaches of Badansoo (Tandhar) upto interiors of Nag-Dabbar in Kulasar, the grasslands of Yug Dhar attract inhabitants of about ten adjoining villages for cattle grazing throughout the year.
Baba Yug Dev is the chief protectorate local God of this region. The temple of Baba Yug is situated at a distance of 18 kilometres from Chenani. It can be reached on foot from village Sewna by covering long distance. From Chenani, a motorable road is available near this place for the pilgrims.
Mela Yug is held on 31 May every year. Due to Covid-19 crisis this year only religious rituals will be performed at this place and the Mela will not be held. On the day of the Mela people reach this place early in the morning from Satyalta, Tandhar, Chenani, Kud, Nagulta, Gharian, Pattangarh, Charat, Pakhlai, Barmeen, Malad, Ghordi, Ramnagar And Udhampur areas in large number. Some devotees reach the destination one day earlier.
In the early hours of Mela day, the idol of Baba Yug is given Holy bath. Thereafter Pooja is performed with chanting of sacred verses by the Pujari. The Navgraha Poojan and other specific rituals are followed next. The temple presents decorated look. Baba Yug is presented with ROT and GURH by the pilgrims. The management of the event is handled by a local Trust of social workers of the area.
The Rural folk gathering is seen making purchases of sweets, toys, and other items from the temporary stalls at the Mela site. The male members are usually seen in kurta pajama with colourful Pagri on the head and their female counterparts are seen in bright multi-coloured suits. Various local artists, dancers and Dogri singers make the event charming. The students from nearby schools show their creativity through short skits and dance. The people sit here and there singing Dogri folk songs in small groups. Some Govt. departments highlight their policies and public welfare programmes through exhibition and straight talk etc. District Administration Udhampur takes care of sanitation, electricity, water, and security concerns of the Mela. Religious sermons are delivered during the Mela.
Previously the Mela was also visited by Chenani and Ramnagar kings. Raja Ram Chand was the last Raja to visit this place on the year 1947 with his large contingents. A Bhandara is also held here for all. The bangle sellers and sweet sellers see great rush as people of these far off places hardly get chance to visit cities in normal course. Thousands of people stand in long queues to have glimpse of idol of the Baba Yug to worship and get Parsad. The rural folk and urban participants exchange their social and cultural thoughts during the Mela.
Legends say that centuries ago Baba Yug tried to bring Deodar Trees from Mantalai area for plantation but due to some divine reason the trees could not reach Yug Dhar and fell at nearby location called Deairon- Ka – Dabbar.
It remains sorry state of affairs that having extraordinary tourism potential, this place could not be promoted for tourism purpose and kept unknown for the lovers of nature till date. If developed it will open vast scope for normal and adventure tourism in the area. This place fulfils all the parameters for sanction of Independent Tourism Development Authority. Present Government of U.T. of Jammu and Kashmir has initiated a number of programmes for promotion of tourism. It is requested that separate Tourism Development Authority be sanctioned for this place of immense beauty having blessings of Bbaba Yug Dev Ji Maharaj.
(The author is Member ARC University of Jammu)
Rajinder Chand Anthal