In Jammu and Kashmir an annual fair is held in the name of Baba Jitu,
a simple and honest farmer who preferred to kill himself rather than
submit to the unjust demands of the local landlord to part with his
crop. He killed himself in the village of Jhiri, 15km from Jammu. Jitto sat on the heap of grain and stabbed himself with a dagger and all the grains were smeared with his blood.
Every year, the fair is held to pay tribute to father and her seven year old daughter Bua Kouri who set herself ablaze on the pyre of her father Baba Jitu. A temple was built at the site of martyrdom of father and the daughter and after that a fair was held in their memory. The villagers and their descendants have been attending the annual fair to repent for partaking the blood strained grains and for not coming forward to support Baba Jitto. This Fair is a salute to the courage of a farmer, his sacrifice for the liberation of the farming community. The Jhiri Mela celebrates honesty, innocence, humility and stands for courage, culture and truthfulness. Lakhs of tourists from all over the India gather during the Jhiri Mela to pay tribute to the Samadhi of this legendary farmer.
In addition to being a religious event, the mela also provide marketing outlet to the local sugarcane growers. As the area is famous for sugarcane crop, most of visitors in mela purchase sugarcane and take it along with them. People from all over India come to Jammu during the time of Jhiri Mela to pay homage to Baba Jitu and his holy soul. During the fair, exhibitions are organized that cater to diverse variety of articles ranging from pottery, vases, utensils and toys to books on Baba Jitu. For the people coming from all over India, one important ritual during the Jhiri Mela is to take a holy dip in Babe-
da- Talab' which is known to have miraculous powers for curing skin disorders. Jhiri Mela is celebrated every year in the months of October November.It lasts for almost seven days and is an exemplary experience for all its visitors.
Ramesh Raina, AIR correspondent, Jammu