Baba Rode Shah

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Shrine of Baba Rode Shah
Photo: Joy Club Sunil

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ANI/ March 25, 2002,

JoyClubSunil/ January 11, 2019

The seer

Baba Rode Shah moved to [Bhoma town, 34 km from AMRITSAR] in 1896 and lived on the outskirts. He was a holy man and soon the miracles he performed to help people in distress made him popular.

It is believed that Rode Shah underwent austere penance and was blessed with mystical powers. Today the shrine is known for its miraculous cures. According to the devotees, by offering liquor at the shrine childless couples have been blessed with children and people have achieved prosperity.

The Baba was a teetotaller. Once when one of his devotees offered him liquor to show his gratitude for the fulfilled wish, the Baba distributed it among his disciples. And, later this became a tradition. Balbeer Singh, a devotee, said, "all kinds of liquor is offered at the shrine here, be it country-made liquor or expensive foreign-brewed whisky". This "parsad" is given to the devotees in the form of liquor in small plastic bags.

The annual fair

Following the age-old tradition, thousands offered liquor at the shrine of Muslim seer Baba Rode Shah near here during the three-day annual fair, which concluded on March 24.

The devotees visit the shrine situated in Bhoma town, 34 km from here, with offerings of liquor meant for Baba Rode Shah. As a ritual they bring bottles, pouches and buckets containing a heady cocktail of drinks ranging from cheap country-made liquor to foreign brands.

The alcohol, offered in response to fulfilment of desires, is later distributed among the devotees. Harbans Singh, a devotee, said, "It is not that we only offer liquor. There are religious prayers as well. There is nothing wrong with this tradition, which has been going on for years and will continue forever. People have great faith in this fair, as prayers offered bring them jobs, happiness and success in life".

Though heavy security arrangements are made at the fair, police tend to go a bit easy on devotees who, most of the time, end up in a drunken stupor on the pavements.

"There is no question of any grant of permission. The administration does not want to hurt anybody's religious feelings", said Paramjit Singh Teja, a police official. Many policemen even believe that if they stop the devotees from drinking, the Baba's wrath will turn them blind.

The fair in 2017

Joy Club Sunil, who belongs to the area, describes the fair as it was in 2017:

The mela is held every year since the death of the baba in 1924. It is said that the baba belonging to a village in Gurdaspur arrived and settled at Bhoma in 1896.

It is said that the wife of an issueless farmer of the village gave birth to a male child with the blessings of baba and offered Rs 500- in return. However the baba refused the money and instead asked the farmer to distribute it as ‘prasad‘ to his devotees.

Since then the people have been offering liquor which is collected in a vessel and distributed amongst devotees, but baba himself never consumed it. Liquor is offered throughout the year but its offering goes up during the fair.

Drove solo to the shrine last on 24th March 2017, the 2nd day of the fair. There was huge crowd hawkers, shops, merry go round etc and no space for parking.

Had to walk for about a kilometer to reach the shrine.

People were lying everywhere, on the ground, on the road and in the fields drunk to the full. Many were holding bottles in their hands drinking and distributing.

There were 2-3 shrines, each asserting to be the original, one of them had more crowd and looked to be the main shrine. People were offering liquor in huge numbers and even more number of enthusiasts were fighting to get their glasses filled.

Most people at the fair were drunk and since I was holding a DSLR mistook me for a journalist. They fought and quarreled to get clicked and a promise for a front page photograph in the next days newspaper.

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