LAHORE: The 156th Mela of Baba Bankhandi in Sukkhar has started and is being attended by almost twelve-thousand Hindus. The festival is taking place at Sadho Bela Temple which is situated in the middle of River Indus in Sindh and it is held every year to commemorate the death anniversary of Baba Bankhandi, Pakistan Today learnt.
During the festival, the Hindu Yatrees sang Bhajan and prayed for the well being and prosperity of Pakistan. The festival was attended by the Mayor Sukkhar Muhammad Arslan Sheikh, Commissioner Sukhhar Muhammad Rafiq and the Chief Guest was Secretary Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Tariq Wazir while other important personalities also attended the ceremony.
The Sadh Belo temple is located on an island that was previously known as Menak Parbat and as per the legend; Baba Bankhandi Maharaj came to the same site in 1823 at the age of 15 and died there when he was 60 years old. It is said that Sant Harnam Das, the Maharaj’s eighth gaddi nasheen (caretaker) began constructing the temple in 1889. Further, the Sadh Belo temple covers an area of almost nine acres of land and contains separate places of worship for men and women while a library having Hindu religious and mythology books, separate dining rooms for bhandaras (free food) for women and men, washrooms and a big garden are a part of the site. The living quarters of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj and his students have also been preserved for the Hindu Yatrees who visit the site on the same mela.
The ceremony was attended as the Chief Guest by the Secretary ETPB Tariq Wazir Khan and while addressing the ceremony he said that all the Hindu religious sites are being well maintained and preserved by ETPB. “The Chairman ETPB Amir Ahmed has also directed the staff to keep a check on all the Hindu religious sites and they should be well preserved keeping in view the religious sanctity. We have provided fiber boats at the festival and also the provision of clean and cold drinking water is made for the Hindu Yatrees,” Tariq Wazir said.
He further added that all the Hindu religious sites in Pakistan including Katas Raj Temple in Chakwal and Karishna Mandir in Lahore were being persevered and maintained by ETPB.
The spokesperson ETPB Amir Hussain Hashmi said, “The festival is held every year in River Sindh at the Sadho Bela Temple in order to commemorate the death anniversary of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj and it is attended by thousands of Hindus. All the participants of the festival were happy with the steps taken by the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the welfare and wellbeing of the minorities in Pakistan and praised the government. ETPB staff is working hard for the improvement and preservation of religious sites of all minorities so that they feel safe and secure in Pakistan and take along good memories of the people and government of Pakistan.”