As the sun set on this dusty village near the India-Pakistan border, the sounds of qawwalis rent the air and hundreds of couples from across the country lay a chadar on what they believed to be the tombs of the legendary lovers Laila-Majnu with a prayer that their love too would be immortal.
According to folklore, Laila-Majnu were two star crossed lovers who were forcefully separated. But on June 15 every year they have been bringing hundreds of couples together in this village in Rajasthan's Sriganganagar district, over 575 km from the state capital Jaipur.
This year was no different at Binjore, which is just two kilometres from the Pakistan border and according to legend has the tombs of the famous lovers, whose romance took on a touch of divinity to be retold generation after generation. Hundreds of newly weds and unmarried couples descended in hundreds Tuesday from far-flung areas of the country to offer their prayers at the tombs.
The fair, which started during the day on Tuesday, ended only late night.
Historians deny the existence of Laila-Majnu, calling them mythical characters, but that has done little to dampen the ardour of those who visit the village.
"Every year thousands of couples descend on this place to seek the blessing of Laila-Majnu. I do not know whether there were any Laila and Majnu but I know that in the last 10-15 year I have seen an increase in number of couples visiting the tombs every year,” Gaurav Kalra, a local resident said.
This is a ritual that transcends boundaries of religion.
“It is not that only Muslims and Hindus come here, even Sikhs and Christians come when the fair is held,” Kalra added.
Hetram, a resident of a nearby village, said: “My grandparents told me that according to the folklore Laila and Majnu had drifted into this part of the country in search of water and that they died of thirst and their tombs were set up at the spot.”
A blushing Rekha, who has just been married, said: "We heard this is a Mecca for lovers and one must visit this place for a long and happy married life, so I have come here with my husband.”
Some come here with wishes of marital happiness while others, in love but not married, pray that they will be married soon.
“I have come here with my fiancé so that I can get married soon. Someone told me to visit these tombs and seek blessings,” Sanjay Singh, a resident of Bharatpur said.
Seeing the popularity of the tombs and the curiosity they are generating the state government is planning to step in and upgrade the facilities in the village.