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June 9, 2012

Yatris see ‘the light’ at Shri Parbirham mela


June 9, 2012

Hundreds of Hindu Yatris from Sindh and Balochistan sighted the Joti (Divine Light) on what was the last day of the Faqeer Parbirham Mela, which was held earlier this week at the Verhi Jhap village in the Tharparkar district. The sighting marks the end of a pilgrimage in which the devotees travel barefoot through the scorching summer heat to worship at one of the holiest Hindu temples in the sub-continent.
One of the many rituals performed during this religious festival is known as the Chharhi Saheb Yatra, in which a procession of devotees is led by a man carrying an elaborately decorated Chharri (stick) on his shoulder. The stick symbolises the spiritual power of the Shri Parbirham.
During their trek to the temple in Veri Jhap, the Yatris recite religious chants as a demonstration of their spiritual devotion.
The village of Verhi Jhap has been immortalised in the prose of legendary poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai. Bhitai words depict the love among the devotees, who live in a commune during their week-long stay at the village. Renowned author, Bheromal Advani, in a book that focuses on Bhitai’s travels, has also thrown light on Verhi Jhap, the temple and its background.
The shrine at Verhi Jhap is an ancient Shiva Temple which is considered one of the holiest Hindu sites in the sub-continent, along with Dwarkanath, Badrinath, Kelash Nath in Kashmir and the Hinglaj in Balochistan.
The religious festival is usually celebrated in the first week of June, just before monsoon season. During their weeklong stay at the temple, the devotees live harmoniously with one another in a communal system in which food is distributed evenly among the people.
Though the festival features many events, the main attraction for the devotees is the sighting of the joti, a mysterious flame that is said to rise after sunset from a thick bush tree near the temple.
The worshippers wait for hours to witness the mystical scene, which lasts for just a few

seconds. Devotees associate the sighting of the joti with fulfillment of their dreams and hopes; when the joti is sighted, they exchange greetings and congratulations.
There have been years, though, in which the joti was not sighted. When this happens the devotees return to their respective villages with a heavy heart, as it is thought to be a bad omen.
Before the subcontinent was partitioned, pilgrims would stay at Vhera Jhap for several weeks. The festival is still observed by a numerous devotees from Sindh who have shifted to other countries.

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