The annual ‘Jhiri Mela’ began on Wednesday

The annual ‘Jhiri Mela’ began on Wednesday

The annual Jhiri Mela, a tradition going on in the state for the last several centuries began yesterday on 25 November in a small village of Jhiri which is located nearly 18-20 km away from Jammu at Jammu- Akhnoor Highway.

Child at Jhiri Mela

Thousands of people visited this seven-day long annual event on the first day to remember the sacrifice of the legendary farmer and his daughter, who laid down their lives in fight against feudalism.

As is told by the elders, it is the legendary farmer Jit Mal (Baba Jitto), in the memory of whom the fair is organised every year. He was a devotee of Mata Vaishno Devi and shifted to Shamachak village, near Jammu, along with his daughter Bua Kori from Aghar village, near Katra, some 200 years ago. Jit Mal was landless and requested Mehta Bir Singh, a feudal lord to provide a piece of land for tilling. Mehta Bir Singh agreed on a condition that he will take one-fourth of produce. The land was known to be barren and no one had ever put hand on it knowing the land would not bear fruit.

Baba Jitto, toiled on the land day and night and the land produced a great crop of Kanak (wheat). The landlord, upon seeing such a huge crop got greedy and turned from his word of taking only one-fourth of the produce. He wanted more than agreed and sent his men to forcibly take all the crop. Incensed at the injustice, Baba Jitto stabbed himself sitting on the heap of the crop, leaving grains drenched with his blood. Later his daughter Bua Kori lit a pyre and burnt herself with her father, thus making him immortal in the local folklore.

It is said that wherever the reached in north-India, people from all those areas come to pay their respects during the Jhiri mela. These families have taken Baba Jitto as their ‘kul devta’ (Family Deity).

This is why, the fair which is based on folklore of the Dogra history, people visit this from all across the north India. People come from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to pay tributes to the legendary farmer, Baba Jit Mal, popularly known as Baba Jitto, at his “samadhi” every year. They also take a customary dip in the Baba-da-Talab (Pond), a natural pond four kms from the temple which is believed to have curative powers. The pilgrims take the mud of the pond that they call ‘Shakkar’ back to their homes.

A huge market comes up at the site of the mela and shops and stalls selling selling food items and all sorts of dailyware are set up. Joy rides and other rural sports also form an important feature of this seven days long event.

Keeping in view the large influx of people, the administration has already established a control room to monitor the arrangements and civic amenities at the site. Also, the transport authorities were directed to arrange sufficient number of buses for transportation of devotees and to fix a special timetable for hassle-free movement of vehicles. Fire services would ensure fire tenders at the venue and other vital points to meet any eventuality.

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