The centuries-old Chamliyal Mela was celebrated with zeal and enthusiasm along the International Border (IB) in the Ramgarh sector in Punjab on Thursday, but without the traditional exchange of sacred ‘shakkar’ (holy soil), ‘sharbat’ (holy water) and ‘chaddar’ with Pakistan.
For the second year running after Partition, ‘shakkar’ and ‘sharbat’ were not exchanged between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers who did not send traditional ‘chaddar’ at the shrine of Baba Dilip Singh Manhas, popularly known as Baba Chamliyal, in Samba district.
The decision to suspend this exchange was taken last year after the Pakistan Rangers attacked the Chamliyal border outpost on June 12, 2018, killing four BSF personnel, including an assistant commandant.
Meanwhile, more than two lakh devotees from different parts of the country paid obeisance at the holy shrine.'It is like a festival and we tried our best to facilitate the devotees. More than two lakh people have paid obeisance at the shrine,' said Ms. Sushma Chouhan, Deputy Commissioner, Samba.
However, devotees were disappointed over the cancellation of the traditional exchange between the BSF and Rangers.'Every year we visit to seek the blessings of Baba Chamliyal and enjoy the mela. This time, the main event of the mela did not happen. It was not only a tradition since Independence, but also reflected the faith of lakhs living on the other side of the fence,' said Ms. Priya Kumari, a devotee from Punjab.
'The devotees of Pakistan are suffering because of strained relations. Pakistan should think about it before conducting mischievous activities on borders,' she added.The Baba Chamliyal Mela has been celebrated for the last 320 years on the either side of the border. The BSF and Pakistan Rangers mainly handle the yearly fair and help people receive the sacred ‘sharbat’ and ‘shakkar’, considered to have healing properties against different skin ailments.