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The annual Shaheedi Jor Mela, held in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh's two young sons-Zorawar Singh and Fateh Singh- who were bricked alive inside a wall here in Fatehgarh Sahib, has undergone a sea change in the recent years.
The attitude of politicians has altered the flavour of the mela, which has become modernised with each passing year.
The spiritual feeling has been replaced by rapid commercialisation. People, instead of listening to katha kirtans and dhadi jathas in gurdwaras, enjoy the fair differently.
Political parties bring their activists and show off strength through public addresses at the mela. “The entire scenario of the mela has changed. About 40 years ago, the mela was known as “Singh Sabha” and people from villages used to sleep on floors and keep fast in the memory of Sahibzadas,” said an elderly.
Earlier, devotees used to look forward to the religious deewans and listen to dhadi jathas. Even Maharaja of Patiala Yadwindra Singh used to take part in nagar kirtan and walked barefoot as mark of reverence.
District administration used to pass directive banning sale of liquor during the occasion. Though the sale of liquor is still banned, hemp cakes (tikki) are readily available.
Tattooing, body painting attract many customers, especially youngsters during the fair. The cold weather failed to dampen the spirit of the fair, which was at its best during community services, including langar. Langars were organized along the state highways and inter-district roads leading up to Fatehgarh Sahib.
In the 25km area around the town, 250 langars were functioning round-the-clock since December 25. These langars were being run on the contributions coming from various quarters, especially from the organisers. No stall of circus, dancing, gambling and swings, loudspeakers was allowed in the mela by the district administration.
A free bus service has been started for the elderly from the entry points of the mela. Earlier, due to the ban on entry of vehicles into the mela, the aged persons used to face a lot of problems, as they had to walk a long way.
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on concluding day of Jor Mela on Friday announced that visitors should abstain from wearing colourful clothes during the three-day religious ceremony. He added that from next year the ceremony should be titled as Shaheedi Sabha instead of Shaheedi Jor Mela.