The Bold Voice of J&K

Historic Moungri Mela

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DR BANARSI LAL

In India various international level fairs and festivals are organized such as Mahakumb Mela, Pushkar Mela etc. which are attended by millions of tourists, traders and devotees across the globe. Union Territory of J&K is famous for various fairs and festivals as they are the integral part of the people. In J&K also various types of Melas are organised such as Jhiri Mela, Bahu Mela, Hemis Gompa Mela, Dera Baba Baisakhi Mela, Baba Jitto Mela, Sankari Mela, Sudhmahadev Mela etc. which attract thousands of people across the nation. These events add colour and vibrancy to the lives of the people of J&K. These fairs also help to showcase the rich culture of J&K at national and international level through folk songs and dances. These fairs and festivals are mostly organized near the sacred rivers and holy shrines. Celebration of fairs and festivals in different parts of Jammu region indicates the rich and diverse cultural heritage of the province. The celebration of such fairs and festivals help to unite the people from all the sections of society. These types of events help us to preserve and transmit our rich culture from generation to generation.
Udhampur district of Union Territory of J&K is said to be the hub of religious spots. This district is blessed with numerous religious spots and every year thousands of devotees across the nation visit this district. Various religious places such as Sudhmahadev, Krimchi Temples, Man Talai, Pingla Devi Shrine, Ram Nagar Temples etc. are situated in this district. These places are of great religious importance. There are various other religious places in this district which are not frequently visited by the pilgrims but they can also attract more and more of devotees from far and wide. The scenic beauty of this district contains in itself various unfolded chapters of history of ancient civilizations. The district is blessed by lofty peaks, green meadows and dense forests on the hills. This place is visited by the pilgrims and tourists across the nation throughout the year. Udhampur district of J&K is also known for various fairs and festivals. Moungri Mela is an important Mela in Udhampur district and thousands of devotees visit this spot during the Mela. Every year a three days Mela is organized at Sar Dabbar (Moungri) with great enthusiasm. This place is about 50 Km from Udhampur. This event is commenced from 1st of Jyeshth and last till the 3rd of Jyeshth (around mid of May). This place is situated in the midst of charming hills and in the confluence of two streams at Moungri block of Udhampur district. Sar means a lake’ such as Surinsar and Mansar. It is said that this place was once a lake, the water which was drained leaving behind the vast stretch of fallow land .Devotees from Udhampur, Moungri, Panchari, Chenani, Ram Nagar and other places of J&K assemble at this spot and throng at Sar Dabbar during the Mela to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and other deities in the natural caves. There is a naturally formed Shiv Lingam guarded by Sheshnag and stone manifestations of Damru, Nandi and countless other deities. Moungri is also said as an abode of Kansar Devta.
People have a great religious faith in these caves and they pour milk on the holy Shiv Lingam in the upper cave, which gets absorbed and then trickles down the devotees as they pay obeisance to other Gods and Goddesses in the lower caves.
This Mela also attracts a large number of local artists and cultural artists from other parts of Union Territory of J&K, who present folk songs and dances such as Kud, Geetru, Bhaakh etc. and leave the visitors mesmerised. These artists give pleasure to the devotees. The local people of the area, wearing their cultural dresses move in groups at the Mela site with great happiness and anthuasiasm.
It seems that one has come into a different world of happiness and devotion. Department of Agriculture and other allied departments also establish their stalls to create awareness and educate the people about the various technologies and developmental schemes and programmes ongoing in the district. Various sports activities are also organised with the active participation of the players. An Indian style wrestling which is commonly called as Dangal is also organized specially in the concluding day of the event. Well known wrestlers from within J&K and outside of J&K participate in the wrestling. This activity is attended by the people with greater enthusiasm and keenness. Local people of the area set up various kiosks of sweets, toys, bangles, edible items etc. and they generate extra income during the three days event. District Administration of Udhampur plays a significant role in the organisation of this event. District administration provides basic facilities to the pilgrims during the Mela. Drinking water, security and safety, electricity, sanitation, medical facilities etc. are provided by the district administration.
Free food (langar) is also arranged for the devotees during the Mela. A large number of devotees visit this cave every year during the Mela. This area needs more development and more attention is needed for the developmental activities of this spot. There is also need to construct more shelters for the pilgrims at the Mela site. This place can be constructed as a tourist’s hub if special focus is given on this area.
More tourists huts and inns can also be constructed at this spot so that the tourists can stay here with pleasure. As this area has its own beauty so special view points can be constructed for the tourists. The rural tourism can be promoted in the area so that people of the area can increase their income and employment. Local culture of the area can be promoted as the area has its own heritage. This place is having cool climate and charming beauty so the Chinar and Deodar plantation can be promoted in the area. This area has immense potential in saffron farming, floriculture and horticulture and the farmers of the area should be upgraded with the latest agricultural knowledge so that they can do the commercial farming and increase their income. During the event various exhibition stalls are put up by different departments such as agriculture, horticulture, floriculture, animal husbandry, rural development etc. to educate the people on agriculture and allied sectors. Cultural programmes are also organised during the event.
Moungri Mela is a socio-religious event that brings together many people at this spot where devotees of Lord Shiva forget their caste, creed and language and share an experience of faith with full devotion. District administration provides security, safe drinking water, un-interrupted power supply, adequate provision of essential commodities, sanitation, transport, market checking, medical services, transport arrangements etc. to the devotees. We need to participate in the Moungri Mela. Wide publicity of Mela through print and electronic media well in advance is also done so that more and more people participate in the event.
The young generation of today remain glued to mobile phones, laptops, TVs etc. rather being a part of such religious events. We all must be proud of our diverse and rich culture and we must spare our time from our hectic schedule to take part in such fairs and festivals. Parents should encourage their children to attend such events to realize the significance of such events and learn to respect, preserve and transmit our culture. We all must be proud of our diverse and rich culture and we must spare our time from our hectic schedule to take part in such fairs and festivals.
(The writer is Sr. Scientist & Head, KVK, Reasi, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Jammu).

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