SIALKOT - Thousands of people thronged Charwah village near Zero Point along the Sialkot Working Boundary to participate in the celebrations of annual urs of Baba Chamliyal Sarkar.

The three-day celebrations began on Thursday in village Tulsipur-Charwah, some 64km from here, in sizzling weather.

People including women, children, youth and elderly persons reached the shrine after travelling long distances on motorcycles, cars, buses, mini vans, tangas, auto rickshaws, tractor-trolleys and even by foot.

They were eager to have glimpses of the shrine of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas, known as ‘Baba Chamliyal’, while going near the Zero Point. This shrine is located in Ramgarh sector of Samba district of India.

Thousands of devotees each year on either side of the Sialkot Working Boundary participate in separate fairs held in Pakistan and India.

A ‘sea of people’ with the hope of peace along borders throngs the shrine with great enthusiasm to participate in the festival. They collect ‘Sharbat’ (sweet water) and ‘Shakkar’ (soil) from the dargah of the famous saint.

The festival continues for 3 days

This annual fair begins on fourth Thursday of June every year.

The administration on both sides gets involved in making arrangements for the people participating in the festival.

Local social workers Ateeb Ayub and Usman Haider told The Nation that people believed that these holy ‘Shakkar’ and ‘Sharbat’ have medicinal properties against various skin ailments.

Though devotees from Pakistan are not allowed to cross into India along the Sialkot Working Boundary, each year they gather at village Tulsipur-Charwah, where they are provided this Shakkar and Sharbat.

Before the Pak-India War of 1971, Pakistanis were allowed to visit the Indian side of the Sialkot Working Boundary.

This festival is organized every year with much pomp and show at “No Man’s Land” along the Sialkot Working Boundary.

The security officials exchange “Shakkar” the soil and Sharbat” (Water). The soil (named as Shakkar) is believed to have miraculous curing 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, said the local devotees.

“Border have divided the land in two parts but the blessings of Baba Chamliyal still enable us to see each other and due to this festival,” devotee Tajamal Hussain said.

Another devotee Naveed Akhtar said that no one wanted borders between the humanity, but these were only circumstances that put people in 72 years trial.

The families of both police and civil officials were seen coming in their official vehicles despite scorching heat. While those, belonging to poor families, are believed to come on foot to such occasions. “I came by foot from Oora Chowk-Sialkot along with my family,” Ishaq said, adding “We believe that devotees should come without shoes if they want their wishes come true.”

The local people were of the view that this fair is a living testimony for the Hindu-Muslim ties along the Sialkot Working Boundary 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 (along the Sialkot Working Boundary) here.

Meanwhile, it is believed that the soil and water near the Baba shrine cures skin diseases of all types and Pakistani devotees are gifted this soil and water by the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF)after the function is over. The soil given to them is called (Shakkar) means sugar and the water as Sharbat means Juice. Thousands visit on both sides of border to pay their obeisance to Baba and take part in the festival at his shrines in Chamliyal in India and Chaparral-Sialkot in Pakistan. “See how it hearts one heart that one brother is on that side and another is at this side,” said Sialkot based Bashir, adding “I had seen people from Pakistan going to the said shrine on the day of Mela (Fair) in past but now the unavoidable circumstances have created a gap between the two”.

People in Ramgarh-India who were visible from the zero point assembled at Baba’s Dargah, but thousands of devotees in Sialkot-Pakistan are not allowed to cross the border. 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 closed to each other despite the unfortunate 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.

According to folklore Dalip Singh Manhas, a pious person, was returning home when he was assaulted by some criminals and beheaded. His body fell in Saidanwali village (now in Pakistan) and his head in Chamliyal. One of his disciples suffering from an incurable skin ailment had a vision of Baba telling him that the soil where his (Baba’s) body had fallen had medicinal value. Baba then advised him to mix the soil with water and apply it over the affected parts. The disciple tried it and was cured. As news spread, people began thronging this place and turned it into a holy shrine. Since then, believers follow the ritual of applying the soil of Chamliyal referred as ‘Shakkar’ (sugar) and ‘Sharbat’ (water) on their bodies.