Jammu: The much awaited Baba Chambliyal mela—held every year along the International Border in Ramgarh Sector of Samba—has been cancelled due to the spread of COVID pandemic threat for the second year in a row.
Official sources said that the mela has been cancelled after a review meeting held on Friday between the District Administration Samba, BSF authorities and members of the Dargah Management Committee.
The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner Samba.
Last year also because of COVID 19, the Chamliyal fair–a symbol of Indo-Pak bonhomie was canceled and only limited devotees paid obeisance at the shrine and offered ‘chadar’ in the Ramgarh sector of Samba district.
Chamliyal Mela is celebrated last Thursday in June every year.
“Not to become a super spreader in view of COVID threat, which is not yet over, the District Administration Samba has cancelled the annual fair,” they said, adding that the officials in the meeting expressed the possibility of increasing the risk of infection due to the gathering at the fair.
“The fair is not possible, but the BSF authorities and the Dargah Management Committee will be performing ceremonial rituals at the Dargah,” they said.
The shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas, a saint popularly known as Baba Chamliyal, is located in the Samba district and is thronged by lakhs of devotees during the fair.
During the Mela, Pakistan Rangers exchanged sweets with BSF personnel at Zero Line while a delegation of the force offered a ‘chadar’ at the shrine, located one-and-a-half kilometres from Zero Line.
In 2020, the fair was canceled due to the Covid pandemic and in 2018 and 2019 it was canceled due to estranged relations between India and Pakistan.
In 2018, in history for the first time, Chamliyal Mela–was canceled due to tension along the international border.
BSF troops in return hand over ‘shakkar’ (holy sugar) and sharbat (holy water) 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 Indo-Pak war, the practice was discontinued.
On the Pakistan side, it remains a three-day affair at Village Saidawali in Sialkot opposite village Chamliyal on the Indian side.
Pakistani Rangers hand over a traditional ‘chaddar’ to BSF for laying it at Baba Chambliyal ‘dargah’.
The 320-year-old ‘Chambliyal Mela’, which is being celebrated on both sides of the IB, has become highly popular since November 26, 2003, after the ceasefire agreement and parallel peace initiatives by both India and Pakistan.