SUKKUR: Hindu pilgrims started converging on Monday at the historical Sadh Belo temple, situated in the middle of River Indus, to take part in activities that mark the 149th death anniversary of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj.
The activities, which would stretch over three days, started off with the Havan Yag (worshipping the Agni Devta). Hindu Panchayat Sukkur president Mukhi Eshwar Lal informed that the Agni Puja precedes the start of every religious festivity. A recitation from Guru Granth and Bhagwat Geeta followed. Free food (langar) was also distributed among devotees.
The Sadh Belo temple is located on an island that was previously known as Menak Parbat. According to legend, Baba Bankhandi Maharaj came to the site in 1823, when he was 15 years old, and died there at the age of 60. Sant Harnam Das, the Maharaj’s eighth gaddi nasheen (caretaker), began constructing the temple in 1889.
The Sadh Belo temple is spread over nine acres of land and contains separate places of worship for men and women, a library that houses books on religion and Hindu mythology, separate bhandars (dining rooms) for women and men, washrooms and a big garden. The living quarters of Baba Bankhandi Maharaj and his students have also been preserved.
Pilgrims from all over Pakistan come to attend the three-day events every year, said Hindu Panchayat Sukkur president Mukhi Eshwar Lal. He informed that Sant Bhai Washdev, a disciple of Baba Pribhudas in Ahmedabad, India, was also visiting the temple.
The Sadh Belo Parbhandak Committee is responsible for making lodging and transportation arrangements for the pilgrims. Lal said that the committee had rented boats for Rs2,000 per boat per day, and charged each person Rs5 for a ride.
Rukmani Bai, who was visiting from Bahawalpur, appeared satisfied with the lodgings she had been provided in Sukkur. “I have been attending this mela for 20 years. We get whatever we ask from Baba.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.