Lakhs of devotees on their way to participate in the Baisakhi festival at Takht Damdama Sahib; (right) devotees take bath at the sarovar of Takht Damdama Sahib gurdwara; (below left) volunteers serve ‘thandai’ to devotees; (below right) members of the Medical Practitioners Association distribute medicines to the needy.

Baisakhi Mela sans conferences this year

Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda, Punjab: “Mele de tin kamm pakke, dhup, dhud te dhakke.” (A fair has three things to offer for sure — sunlight, dust and jostling). This is what exactly the Baisakhi Mela at Takht Damdama Sahib witnessed today where a sea of humanity turned up to pay obeisance at the Talwandi Sabo Gurdwara and to participate in the colourful festival.

Following restrictions imposed by the Election Commission on holding of political conferences at Takht Damdama Sahib, the festival turned out to be a purely religious affair this time. Roadside toy-sellers, eating joints, langar (community kitchen) and loud music playing religious verses amidst serpentine queues of vehicles piling up to gain entry in the city were seen the whole day.

Community kitchens were set up by village groups at numerous places on roads leading to Talwandi Sabo.

People turned up in large numbers since Sunday to pay obeisance at the gurdwara and to take bath in the sacred pond.

Apart from the traditional games at the roadside, eating joints also offered ‘bhang ki thandai’ to the people.

A man from Patiala putting up a ‘bhang ki thandai’ stall said they didn’t offer ‘bhang ki tikki’ or ‘thandai’ to everyone, but it was served only to those who persisted.

Free stalls of tea, sweets like jalebi, food and other eatables were seen on both sides of the roads, especially within the periphery of the holy city.

The visitors said just two police nakas were laid in the city today and that too for asking visitors to park their vehicles at the right parking sites.

“Earlier, we used to see stick-wielding and gun-toting policemen all around the city to keep aside the common people from the road to pave the way for VIP cavalcades. But this time, everything was relaxed and people moved at their own pace towards the gurdwara,” said Gurkirat Singh, who came with his family from Gurdaspur.

A government servant from New Delhi, wielding an electronic loudspeaker, was seen offering the mike to the visitors to recite hymns and prayers.

Even as the man refused to divulge his name, he said he was a mere volunteer who came from Delhi to offer visitors a chance to use the loudspeaker. “There are people who don’t get an opportunity to hold a mike their whole life. My aim is to instill a sense of confidence among them,” he said, adding that he targeted children and teenagers to hold the mike and speak with confidence.

Traditional sports and entertainment events were organised to enrich the experience of the devotees at the Baisakhi festival.

Dr Baljinder Singh Romana, putting up a free medical assistance camp for visitors, said the Medical Practitioners Association, block Nathana, was distributing free medicines to the devotees.

Romana said they had given medicines to nearly 10,000 people for headache, body ache, vomiting and nausea during the past 24 hours.

A large number of beggars, most of them hoodwinking devotees by lying on the roadside using fake injuries on their body parts, were seen getting generous alms.

Source: The Tribune

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