COVID-19: Chamliyal Mela Cancelled

SRINAGAR: Historic Chamliyal Mela which is held every year along the Indo-Pak border at the shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas in Ramgarh Sub Sector of Samba district, was again cancelled this year due to Covid-19 pandemic, reported Daily Excelsior.

As symbolic ceremony, some officials from District Administration Samba, Police and BSF officials along with some of the members of Management Committee of Baba Chamliyal Shrine led by head priest Chetan Sharma, performed special prayers taking all COVID precautions and offered ‘Chadar’ at the shrine this morning. The local Panchayat members of the village also witnessed the occasion.

Last year also, this mela which falls on third Thursday of June, was cancelled due to Corona pandemic. The local administration has deloyed police force at the shrine to control the rush of the local villagers. Through media, the Administration had already announced cancellation of the Mela to contain rush.

Quoting Deputy Commissioner, Samba, Anuradha Gupta, newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that, “In view of COVID-19 pandemic, we have cancelled Chamliyal Mela. This is the second consecutive year, when this Mela is cancelled due to COVID. But prior to last year, the mela was held but there was no exchange of Chadar and `Shakker-Sharbat’ on both sides of the International Border due to tension on the IB.”

The DC, however, said, as symbolic ceremony, the officers from Civil and Police Administration besides BSF Commanders and local Shrine Committee members performed Puja and offered ‘Chadar’ at the Shrine of Baba Chamliyal. She said due to Covid restriction the general public will not be allowed there and additional police force has been deployed there to keep check.

Quoting another senior officer from District Administration Samba, newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that Mela was cancelled after a review meeting between the District Administration Samba, BSF authorities and members of the `Chamliyal Baba Dargah Management Committee’.

He said last year also because of COVID 19, the Chamliyal fair–a symbol of Indo-Pak bonhomie was cancelled and only limited devotees paid obeisance at the shrine and offered ‘Chadar’.

The shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas, a saint popularly known as Baba Chamliyal, is located closer to the IB in Ramgarh area of Samba district and is thronged by lakhs of devotees during the fair.

During the Mela, Pakistan Rangers exchange sweets with BSF personnel at Zero Line while a delegation of the force offer a ‘chadar’ at the shrine, located one-and-a-half kilometres from Zero Line.

In 2020, the fair was cancelled due to the COVID pandemic and in 2018 and 2019 it was held at low key affairs due to estranged relations between India and Pakistan.

BSF troops in return hand-over ‘shakkar’ (holy sugar) and sharbat (holy water) to Pak Rangers from the shrine during mela, which is believed to have healing powers to treat skin diseases.

Baba Chamliyal, after whom the village is named, lived about 322 years ago and is revered by the people of all faiths.

Till 1971, Pakistani nationals were allowed to come to the Indian side to pay obeisance at the shrine but after the 1971 war, the practice was discontinued.

On the Pakistan side, it remains a three-day affair at village Saidawali in Sialkot opposite Chamliyal village on the Indian side.

Pakistani Rangers hand over a traditional ‘Chadar’ to BSF for laying it at Baba Chamliyal ‘Dargah’, reported Daily Excelsior.

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