Thousands of Sikhs converge at Dehradun's Guru Ram Rai Darbar for flag fair

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Dehradun, March 6 (ANI): Thousands of Sikh devotees thronged the shrine of Guru Ram Rai here on Friday for the special flag raising ceremony that marked the beginning of the annual 'Jhanda Mela' or, flag fair.

The 309-year-old annual fair is organized at Guru Ram Rai Darbar in Dehradun district on the fifth day after Holi, the festival of colours. It stands for religious harmony and is celebrated to mark the birth of Guru Ram Rai.

The day is also important in the history as the district, which was originally called 'Doon', got its name after Guru Ram Rai established his 'Dera' meaning settlement in the valley here.

"Jhanda Mela is celebrated annually on the birth anniversary of Guru Ram Rai ji Maharaj which falls during Maha Panchami. In 1676, Guru Ram Rai ji came to this place from Punjab and established his settlement here. Because of his settlement here the Doon Ghats were then called Dehra Doon and now referred as Dehradun. Guru Ram Rai ji is known as the founder of Dehradun," said Mahant Devinder Das, head of the shrine.

A 97-feet high Sal tree has been selected from the nearby Dundhali forests for the Jhanda mela. The devotees worship the flag and bathe it in milk, curd and holy water of river Ganges and then wrap it with muslin cloth.

Old coverings are removed and new ones are added.

The numerous scarves that are tied around the mast, symbolise the devotion and faith of the pilgrims who pray for fulfilment of their wishes.

"Our ancestors have been coming here since a long time. And I have been coming here for 33 years continuously. We have a very strong belief in the almighty. Whatever we wish from god here comes true," said Shravan Singh, a devotee from Punjab.

Tradition has it that after the offerings, the covers are removed and only 40 will remain tied to the Jhanda Sahib.

Twenty persons tie the satin scarf (the second cover) and only one gets the honour of tying the sacred scarf (velvet cover that covers the top of the mast), called the Darshani cover.

People from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh throng this fair, which lasts for 15-20 days.

Such is the fervour and devotion that the advance bookings for the sacred scarf have already been made till Circa 2082. By Ashish Goel (ANI)

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