Jhanda Fair or “Jhande ka Mela” of Dehradun, one of the popular fairs of Uttarakhand, is hailed for its religious importance. It is one of the biggest fairs in Northern India which draws the attention of lakhs of Sikh devotees, living in different parts of the country. People belonging to different sects and communities join together to seek the blessings from Jhanda Sahib.
Why Jhanda Fair is celebrated?
The Jhanda Fair is celebrated on the birthday of Shri Guru Ram Rai Ji, the eldest son of Shri Har Rai Ji, the seventh Guru of the Sikhs. During the festivity, a religious ceremony takes place in which a huge flag wrapped in a holy cloth is hoisted.
The Jhanda Mela takes place on the fifth day of Chaitra that falls five days after Holi. The fair marks the visit of Shri Guru Ram Ji who came to Doon on the same day in Samvat 1733 (1676 AD). Since then Jhanda Ji is hoisted on the same day of each year to commemorate the historical event.
Highlights of the Fair:
The Jhanda Fair is held at Guru Ram Rai Darbar located at Jhanda Chowk in Dehradun. The main attraction of the fair is the hoisting of the mammoth flag which is lifted by several devotees.
How Jhanda Fair is celebrated:
A large number of devotees from different neighbouring states like Punjab, UP, Himachal, and Haryana arrive in Doon to partake in the festivity. During this time, Doon witnesses heavy traffic as people from far-off places come here to witness the raising ceremony of Jhanda Ji.
Men, women, and children of all age groups form groups which are known as Sangat. On Ekadashi, Mahant of Sri Guru Ram Rai Darbar Sahib goes to the bank of Yamuna river at Raiwala, located about 45 km away from Dehradun to welcome the Sangat. The arrangement for the Sangat is done by the Darbar Sahib with great love.
Story behind the raising of Jhanda Ji:
The tradition started in 1676 when Guru Ram Rai Ji set up a camp or ‘dera’ in Doon Valley, present day Uttarakhand. Later, the area came to be known as Dehradun. The flag he had set up to mark the location of his camp, continues to occupy a central spot at Shri Darbar Sahib built by Guru Ram Rai Ji.
The flag hoisting ceremony at Jhanda Mela:
The devotees peculiarly select the finest tree from the Sal forest at Dundhali. A 27-meter long log of wood is chopped to use as the body of the flag. It is then bathed with milk, curd and the holy water of river Ganga. After its ritual cleaning, a muslin cloth is wrapped around it.
Once the flag is hoisted, the devotees offer handkerchiefs or scarves to have their wishes fulfilled. Many devotees request to sew covers of the flag in gratitude after their wishes have been granted. The devotees and locals enjoy the fair where several kiosks selling food items, kids items, household items, jewellery etc. are set up.
How to reach:
Darbar Sahib where the Jhanda Mela takes place is located at a distance of 5 km from ISBT Dehradun. Local transport like taxi, shared autos/Vikram and local buses run to and fro to Darbar Sahib.
Darbar Sahib at Jhanda Chowk is half a km away from Dehradun railway station. From here, the travellers can easily get a shared taxi, Vikram or bus to reach the fair. One can also walk on foot to reach Gurudwara Darbar Sahib as it is in proximity.
Jolly Grant airport at Dehradun is the nearest airport to Gurudwara Darbar Sahib. It is situated at a distance of 25 km from Guru Ram Rai Darbar Sahib. Taxis, car or autos to Darbar Sahib are easily available from Jolly Grant airport.