Faridkot, Oct 6 : Baba Farid, a 12th century sufi saint, is described by many as the first major Punjabi poet. He is known to have once performed penance for 40 days at Mokhalpur and impressed the King.
Faridkot city was later named after him. Devotees from far off place converge in the city to attend the annual Baba Farid fair marking the saint's arrival day with faith and fervor. Tilla Baba Farid' in Faridkot is the place where Baba Farid stayed and did his penance in the 13th century. Today, the holy shrine attracts a large number of devotees who observe Baba Sheikh Farid Aagman Purb', to commemorate his arrival in the city. The recitation of Sukhmani Sahib followed by a prayer at Gurudwara Tilla Baba Farid, and a series of celebrations mark the five-day long fair. Devotees from all religious groups have great faith and devotion in this holy place. Indarjeet Singh Khalsa, the Chairperson of Baba Farid Society, said, "The revenue we get from the fair is utilized on various educational and social purposes. The faith in Baba Farid is intense thus revenue has also increased."
"This year the revenue collected has enabled us to set-up a college and a school in the name of Baba Farid. Initially, Baba Farid fair was a regional fair, then it became state-level fair and today it is a national fair," added Khalsa. During the fair, the Baba Farid Society organises various sporting and cultural activities to attract the youth. It includes kabaddi contests, with teams participating even from neighboring Pakistan. The major attractions at the fair are daring stunts preformed by the Baazigars'.
For five consecutive days, visitors from all over Punjab and neighboring states visit the fair, enjoy rides and eat tasty snacks. But, they enter the playground only after paying obeisance at Gurudwara Tilla Baba Farid.
Amreek Singh, a visitor said, "This year several noted poets participated at the fair. There are Wrestling championship, Kabaddi and Volleyball tournaments in which teams from Pakistan are also participating."
"Also, there are exhibitions on agriculture in which volunteer organizations like Red Cross society and school students have displayed their models," added Singh. "The fair is helping us to preserve our dying customs and traditions. There are several rural sports contests like horse riding and kabaddi, which help motivate the youth towards the sports and keep them away from drugs. Wrestling competitions have also been organized, which encourage the youth from villages," said Sukhvindar Kaur, another visitor.
Baba Farid fair is a religious festival that has been celebrated for centuries. It promotes communal harmony and encourages sports and culture of the state as well. by Avtar Gill