For 364 days in a year Indian and Pakistani soldiers guarding frontiers of their nation keep a hawk’s eye on the enemy movement along the International border but there is one day in their calendar, last Thursday of June, when these soldiers lower their guard, disarm themselves and cross the man made boundaries to greet each other with open arms forgetting bitter memories of bloody wars they fought against each other and bend their knees together to pay obeisance at two different shrines of venerated saint Baba Dalip Singh Manhas popularly known as Baba Chamliyal.
After performing the rituals in their own land the men in uniform from both the countries gather at the zero line along the International border in Ramgarh sector and exchange holy cloth with trolleys of shakkar-sharbat.
Keeping the faith alive devotees of baba chamliyal celebrated 323 anniversary of Baba Dalip Singh Manhas.
On this day the soldiers on both sides of the border are also joined by lakhs of devotees belonging to different faiths and religions and worship Baba together praying for peace and prosperity in the region and making border irrelevant.
Large number of devotees converge at the shrine to find cure for their chronic skin ailments as well as per the popular legend.
The original shrine of Baba Chamliyal is located inside the Indian territory in village chamliyal and its replica is built by devotees of Baba Chamiyal in village Saidawali inPakistan after they were disallowed to enter Indian territory following 1971 war.
Both the shrines are separated by imaginary line of border but devotion and sentiments of baba chamliyal’s worshippers are similar on both sides of the border.
On the day of annual ‘urs’ of Baba Chamliyal the devotees climb tractor trolleys, horse carts, auto rickshaws and every other mode of transport to make a beeline outside the shrine dotted with images of hindu gods and goddesses. Through out the day the worshipers dance to the tunes of drum beats and offer self less service in community kitchen where an estimated one lakh devotees have langar.
In Pakistan the devotees hail baba dalip Singh Manhas as ‘Pir sahib’ and in India he is popularly known as Baba Chamliyal.
As per the legend the original shrine is over 300 years old and was built by devotees of Baba chamliyal after his supreme sacrifice. The shrine remained nondescript till BSF men occupied the area and renovated the place.
For past several years the Pakistani rangers have not been visiting the shrine located inside the Indian territory in village chamliyal but they hand over holy cloth,’ chaddar’ to the BSF authorities at the zero line to be placed inside the sanctum sanctorum.
In return the BSF men hand over Shakkar-Sharbat(mud and holy water of the well) in tractor trolleys for distribution among devotees in Pakistan.
The legend says, Baba who lived about 300 years ago was lured away from his abode by miscreants and killed by deceit. While fighting alone with criminals Baba was beheaded at Saidanwali in Pakistani side. He kept fighting even after it and finally he fell down about 400 metres away from Saidanwali. This place is in Indian side and at present it is called as Chamliyal.
As the legend goes, Baba appeared in the dream of one of his disciples and apparently told him about the curative value of the soil and water where his body had fallen. The Baba told the disciple that his skin ailment would be cured if he mixed the soil and water of that land and applied it to his affected parts.
The legend says, “the next morning, the disciple applied the mud of the land near the Baba’s shrine on his body and got cured.
The word spread like wild fire and since then people belonging to different faiths and religions started visiting the shrine and holding a mela there.
After the partition, Saidawali went to Pakistan and the Baba’s shrine came on the Indian side. But devotees from both the countries continued celebrating the annual mela on both sides of the border.Baba’s disciples come from several other North Indian neighboring states in search of cure for their skin ailments.Large number of caretakers inside the shrine constantly pack packets of clay and distribute it among devotees. The practice of offering ‘chaddar’ and ‘shakkar sharbat’ was discontinued for some time during Kargil war but the practice was resumed soon after the introduction of confidence building measures between the two neighboring countries.