Sunday, March 18, 2012
Rohi Mela: Poetry finds fertile soil in the Cholistan desert
Bahawalpur: This year saw the 11th Rohi Mela, a celebration Sufi poet Khawaja Ghulam Farid. The festival provides much-needed economic support to the people of Cholistan.
The organiser of the mela, Jalil Kohkar, told The Express Tribune that he finances it alone and faces several administrative difficulties. He said that the mela was the biggest event in the area and thousands of people attend. He regretted, though, that no security arrangements were made by the government.
Aside from the organiser’s difficulties, the thousands who turned up had a colourful and enjoyable experience.
Farid is an immensely respected poet. He came from the Chishti-Nizami Sufi orders, was born in Chachran Sharif and buried at Kot Mithan in the district of Rajanpur. His life story was similar to many Sufi poets: travelling from city to city, preaching peace. Farid was well-versed in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Sindhi, Braj, Bhasha and Punjabi.
His preachings and poetry also had a political bent, as he opposed British role in Bahawalpur. He said to ruler of Bahawalpur in one poem: “You rule yourself on your state and finish the police station of the British from your state.”
A love of Cholistan pervades his work. There are also many depictions of the desert life of Rohi Cholistan.
The mela was inaugurated by the current leader of the sufi order, Khawaja Moeen Koreja. The eleventh edition featured Cholistani singers, who recited the poetry of Farid, as well as other entertainments, such as camel shows, horse races, motorbike races, snake shows and wrestling. Moeen told The Express Tribune that the event was one of the most important cultural events in the region.
One of the singers, Shoukat Cholistani, told The Express Tribune that Farid’s poetry contains a love for the land and life of Cholistan, and for that reason people from the region appreciate him. Other singers also expressed their pride at singing the verses of the regional hero.
During the mela season, the organisers filled much of the land with tents so that people could stay at the event. There were also more than 200 stalls of Cholistani-related items, such as shoes, clothes and jewelry.
A free medical camp was set up by the Khawaja Farid Foundation. An eye camp was also set by the Al-Khidmat Foundation.
Picture: Khawaja Farid Stamp. Photo: Pakistan Post.