Jhiri fair

11 Jul 2016 14:17:50


Jhiri fair

A fair in memory of a farmer

Prof. (Dr.) R D Gupta

Among the India’s fairs and festivals, the celebrations of the Jhiri fair in Jammu district, Jammu region of the Jammu and Kashmir State, is pre-eminent in the Nation’s cultural history. Jhiri fair, infact, constitutes one of the biggest cultural cum historical fairs of the State. The history of the State will never forgive us and remain incomplete if we forget the sacrifice of the saint like “Nardh Muni” and great patriot Bawa Jitto (Jit Mal).

Bawa Jitto sacrificed his life as peasant for the just cause of the farming community and the farmers pay obeisance at the Amar Smadhies of Jit Mal and his daughter Bua Kaudi. The village Shama Chak Jhiri about 22 km away from Jammu is located in the north-west side, close to Indo-Pakistan border. The area comes to full life during the Jhiri fair for seven days, when lakhs of Bawa Jitto’s devotees visit to participate in the annual congregation.

The Jhiri fair usually comes off in the month of Kartik every year on full moon day-Poornima or Pooran Mashi according to the Bikrami era. But sometimes, this fair falls on the month of Magharor Magh air of the same era. In accordance with the Christan Era these months concide with the months of October and November.

In this fair thousands of admirers of Bawa Jitto from locals as well as those from every nook and corner of north India, comprising states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Delhi, Rajasthan throng the fair site and pay him obeisance and seek courage of raising voice against oppression and exploitation. Now-a-number of devotees of Bawa Jitto also come from other states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Bengal, Madhya Pradesh etc. and even from the abroad especially Indians settled in USA; Australia and UK, to pay homage to Bawa Jitto, who fought against the injustice and tyranny of the land lords.

Legends:

It is believed that Bawa Jitto was born about 556 years ago at village Aghar in a Brahmin family, which is nestled amidst the Trikuta hills, near to the Goddess Vaishno Devi. Subsequently, the village came to be completely identified with him that now we all know it as “Aghar Jitto.” However according to Chib and Putto (2004), Bawa Jitto was born in 14th century i.e. in the year 1343. Bawa Jitto was a great devotee of the Goddess Vaishno Devi and used to visit the Vaishno Devi Shrine every day. It is believed that Bawa Jitto had a vision of the Goddess Vaishno Devi a number of times. It is also believed that his daughter Bua Kaudi also known as Gauri was in the form of the Goddess Vaishno Devi.

As Bawa Jitto had no real brother or sister and his wife had already died after Gauri was born, so his aunt and uncle as well as his cousins liked to do away with him for claiming all property of their forefathers. Fed up with this harsh attitude, he left the village. Bawa Jitto then met Mehta Bir Singh, the Minister of the King of Jammu Ajaib Dev or Ajaib Singh through his friend (Rolu blacksmith) for obtaining a piece of land for cultivation. Mehta Bir Singh gave him a land with the deal that one fourth of the produce grown in the land will become the share of Mehta Bir Singh. Bawa Jitto worked hard on the land and as a result of his efforts there was a very good harvest. After harvesting of the produce, the owner of the land started demanding more than his share. He backed off his promise because of greed. As Bir Singh was an influential man he tried to snatch forcibly the share of the Bawa Jitto who sternly refused to bear the wrong. Accusing Vir Singh of committing injustice, he declared that under no circumstances would he allow anybody to snatch his due. Bawa Jitto then collected whole of the produce and stood upon it, and laid down his life after striking the sickle in the stomach.

When Bawa Jitto’s daughter, the only survivor of his family, came to know about this incident she reached the spot. Unable to bear the grief and supporting his father’s cause, Bua Kaudi lit the pyre and jumped into her father’s funeral pyre and burnt herself. The duo thus ended their lives but did not let anybody harm their dignity and bow to injustice.

There is a stern belief that after the death of duo, there came a fierce storm and torrential rains, and all the produce was totally washed away. All the human beings as well as animals and birds, who had a chance to consume the remanent produce, became under Bawa Jitto’s debt. And it became mandatory for them to visit the place of Bawa Jitto’s sacrifice every year and pay their obeisance to shun any anger of duo’s souls.

Celebration of Jhiri fair:

Now-a-days Jhiri fair has attained the status of big fair. Since the year 2005 lakhs of people throng Bawa Jitto Shrine. For the smooth accomplishment of 7 days annual Jhiri-fair, District Development Commissioner convenes a meeting of district/state level officers to finalize arrangements, about a month prior to celebrating this fair.

A number of temporary shops of sweets, toys and eatables are well decorated by the locals vis-à-vis outside vendors for the attraction of the general public visiting the fair site. Children are seen enjoying the courageous act of motor cyclist during bikes in the death well.

A well organized exhibition is also arranged. A number of stalls concerning agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry and others with respect to latest technology, are exhibited. The seven days Jhiri fair culminates with free style wrestling match in which a number of prominent wrestlers within and outside the states participate.

For the devotees coming from all over India, one very important tradition/rite during the Jhiri fair is to take a bath or holy dip in the Talab known as “Bawae Da Talab.” The water of this Talab is known to have miraculous powers for curing skin diseases and has blessings for the women, whose children die after born.

courtesy:-Daily Excelsior

(The author is Ex Associate Dean Cum Chief Scientist KVK SKUAST, Jammu.)

 

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