Blend of cultural heritage in Punjab’s soil is so fascinating that a visit to this particular state reveals the fragrance of heritage and social customs. Being enriched by five rivers flowing across the state, it has plentiful agricultural products. At the same time, glory of Punjab is further heightened by the colourful attire and customs, which can be easily visualised by the tourists. In every village, the vast expanses of greenery are further made colourful by the festivities and the number of fairs being organised during celebratory occasions. Punjab is richly endowed with plenty of heritage sites and natural sceneries, many of which are found in the ancient cities and in the village backdrops. Since the agricultural products are quite rich in the harvest season, people celebrate these occasions with lots of folk dance and songs.
Plenty of festivals are celebrated in the state of Punjab and these are marked by the organisation of fairs for entertainment. Even, to recognise the sacrifices of some of the famous personalities of Punjab, there are fairs organised in their memory. Whenever there is a fair in Punjab, which occurs throughout the year, the atmosphere is upbeat and people dress in colourful traditional dresses and go through various dance and songs.
Some Important Fairs held in the Land of Punjab
Chhappar mela is mostly found in the region of Ludhiana. Held during the month of September, this fair is dedicated to Guga Pir, who is considered to be the saint having control over snakes and is thought to be the god of snakes. During this fair, small holes are dug on the ground, seeking blessings of the saint and protection from evil forces.
In the city of Fatehgarh, a large canopy of banyan tree is spread over an area of 2-5 acres known as the Kaya Kalp Vriksha. This canopy is associated with the tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh. Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib Jor Mela or fair is held to honour the sons of Guru Gobind Singh, who were taken away forcibly by Wazir Khan to convert them into Muslims. The mela is joined by people from various castes and creed and contribute. Fateh Diwas is celebrated on 14th May, which is the day associated with this sad event. On this day, during the fair, a large palanquin of Panj Piaras is carried out in a procession from Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib to the Jyoti Swarup Gurudwara. The palanquin is hugely and behemoth decorations of flowers are laid down, while martial arts performers showcase their actions, known as the Gatika Play.
In the year 2011, the 135th anniversary of the Harballabh Sangeeth Sammelan was organised. It was started in memory of Guru Swami Tulja Giri by his disciple, Baba Harballabh. They were extremely talented singers and classical song proponents. This fair is attended by various reputed singers and musicians from all around the country, besides the best talents from Punjab. It is organised along the Devi Talab in Jalandhar, usually in the month of December. The government of Punjab recognises the event as National Festival of Music. The event is one of the extremely gala occasions in the state. Aim of the musical event was to showcase the talent of singers of the state and classical music of Punjab.
Ludhiana Jarag Mela is held in Pail village in Punjab, in honour of Goddess Sitala and has become one of the most reputed fairs in the state, visited by hundreds of thousands of devotees and tourists. It is held in Ludhiana and hence the name Ludhiana fair is associated with it. Handmade shrine is constructed by digging out earth from a pond, with a belief that true devotion can convert any object into shrine. People worship this earth excavation as the shrine and offer gurugulas or jaggery. The donkeys serve as the vahanas of the goddess and their decoration is worth observing. The Ludhiana Jarag Mela is held usually in the month of March and April.
Muktsar Maghi Fair is celebrated with plenty of fanfare and splendour, equivalent in magnitude of Holi and Lohri celebrations. The fair commemorates the death of 40 mukhtas in the Battle of Khidrana. Their deaths were for the religion and hence, the fair is held with lots of dedication and fervour. Since the bodies of these martyrs were cremated in the pond of Khidrana during Magh on 13th January, the fair is held on this particular day. Huge gathering of people occurs in this pond and celebrate the occasion. There is a procession from the Main Shrine to the holy Tibbi Sahib.
Another fair of importance is the Prof Mohan Singh Mela held in Ludhiana, basically to commemorate the great Prof Mohan Singh. He was a well known personality of Punjab and a great writer, who had penned hundreds of heart wrenching poems. During this fair, a grand feast is organised and two writers are awarded with the Prof Mohan Singh Award. Due to the intellectual nature of this fair, it is attended by many writers, poets and accomplished people. Literature festival in its basic form, the mela is marked by various book releases, renditions and poetic discussions.
Martyrs Fair is held every year on 23rd March to dedicate the wishes of the people to the martyrs, Shahid Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev.
One of the most important fairs in Punjab is the Baba Sodal Mela, which is organised to pay homage to Baba Sodal, who was an accomplished personality of Punjab. In Bhadon month, the fair is organised on the 14th day of Sukla Paksh and is attended by thousands of devotees. As per the legend of Baba Sodal, he was born into Khatri Caste in Jalandhar and became a famous saint. There are various rituals associated with the Baba and people visit the pond in Jalandhar, which is the place of his Samadhi. People take a dip in the pond, especially the ladies, who pray for seeking the blessings of the baba for protecting their families and keeping them prosperous.
Punjab is not only prosperous in terms of agriculture and heritage, the fairs are a testimony of the rich culture and customs of the people of this land. Set up mostly with a rural backdrop, the touristic sites are well known and visited by many for the immense benefits to know about the culture and heritage from up close.
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