SIALKOT -  Thousands of people left hundreds of pigeons and balloons in the air with the beginning of the three-day Urs celebrations of Baba Chaambliyaanwala Sarkar in Parel-Masiyaal village, Charwah Sector along the Sialkot Working Boundary.

They also prayed for durable peace on both the sides. They gave a strong message of peace and love to their Indian neighbours. An extraordinary hustle bustle of people was witnessed along the working boundary.

The thousands of people belonging to the entire Sialkot region thronged the far-off bordering village, some 63km away from here to participate in the Mela of Baba Chaambliyaanwala Sarkar, during hot and humid weather on the first day of the three-day celebrations.

A great hustle and bustle of the people was witnessed in the Sialkot border villages. The people especially women and children enjoyed the rides of the traditional swings. The female vendors also established their makeshift stalls of the bangles, artificial jewellery , colourful clay pots, toys and eatables to lure the visitors in the fields.

The annual celebrations began with high hopes of durable peace between the two nuclear neighbours. It is the biggest annual gala in the Sialkot border villages in which thousands of people from across Pakistan participate. All the fields also remained filled with the human beings.

The women’s participation in these celebrations remained incredible as hundreds of old women claimed to reach this venue after walking bare-footed for several kilometers to show their devotion. The people including women, children, youth and old reached there after travelling long by motorcycles, cars, buses. vans, Tongas, auto rickshaws and tractor-trolleys. The Chamliyal Mela is being celebrated with full fervour and joyfulness by the people of both sides in Ramgarh-India and Sialkot-Pakistan.

“Border has divided the land in two parts but the blessings of Baba Chamliyal still enables us to see each other due to this festival,” Arif Mehmood Sheikh, a resident of Sialkot city, said. He said, “No one wants borders between the humanity but these are only circumstances which put us in trial.”

During the special ceremony held at the “No man’s land” along the Sialkot Working Boundary, the senior officials of the Punjab Rangers led by Sector Commander Punjab Rangers Brig Amjad Hussain exchanged sweets with their BSF counterparts and they handed over green Chaddar to BSF officials besides sweets to present it before Baba Chamliyal on behalf of People of Sialkot-Pakistan and the Punjab Rangers.

On the occasion, the BSF officials handed over two trolleys loaded with sacred soil and a big tank carrying the scared water to the Punjab Rangers for their distribution to the Pakistani devotees , said the Sialkot district administration officials.

“I came by foot from Oora Chowk-Sialkot along with my family,” Iqbal said, “We believe that devotees should come without shoes if they want their wishes come true.”

An extra ordinary hustle bustle of the people was witnessed there. The drivers continued fleecing the devotees by overcharging without any fear. Hours-long massive traffic jams were also witnessed on the entire main and link roads leading to the venue. No traffic control arrangements were made by police officials to handle the situation.

The local people were of the view that the fair is a living testimony for the Hindu-Muslim ties along the Sialkot Working Boundary here that survived the scars of the partition. They added that the love and blessings of Baba replaced bullets and intermittent bangs of mortars by rhythmic beats of drums and devotional songs on Indo-Pak borders.

Thousands of devotees each year on either side of the Indo-Pak International Border participate in the separate fairs held every year in Pakistan and India.

A ‘sea of humanity’ with the hope of peace along borders was witnessed as they thronged the border for the annual ‘Chamliyal Mela’ and collected ‘Sharbat’ (sweet water) and ‘Shakkar’ from the Dargah of the famous saint .

The people on both the sides participated with great enthusiasm in the annual fair every year. Administration on both the sides gets involved in making arrangements for the people participating in the Mela.

Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) and the Punjab Rangers of Pakistan manage the annual fair and facilitate people on either side to receive the holy ‘Shakkar’ and ‘Sharbat’, which are believed to have medicinal properties against various skin ailments.

Every year, on the Pakistan side of the Zero Line, people organise a three-day fair and wait for ‘Shakkar’ and ‘Sharbat’ of Baba Chamliyal’s Dargah from India. For the last 324 years, the mela has been celebrated on both the sides in Pakistan and India and become very popular after the guns became silent on the border following ceasefire and parallel peace initiatives by both the countries.

The soil is believed to have miraculous effect on every kind of skin diseases while the “Sharbat” is used to mix the Shakkar and apply it on the skin besides for drinking purpose. The soil and water are gifted after the festival is over.

Thousands of devotees visit on both sides of border to pay their obeisance to Baba and take part in the festival in Samba district of India and along Sialkot Working Boundary in Pakistan.

Some other devotees here said that this is not just a Mela but a strong bond and Baba’s blessings that have kept people of two countries emotionally close to each other despite partition in 1947.

Baba Chamliyal lived about 300 years ago and came to be revered by people because of his saintly qualities and spiritual powers. It is said that the Baba sacrificed his life when he was beheaded by those who did not like his growing influence at village. But the legend says his head, through Baba’s spiritual power came to Chamliyal village where his disciples built a tomb in his memory.