250-year-old festival in Okara cancelled due to Covid-19
A 250-year-old festival held annually at Sheikhu Sharif village has been cancelled due to the coronavirus threat.
The village, located around 30 kilometres from the city, hosted the five-day fair every year in the first week of April.
Syed Hussain Bukhsh of the Gillani Saadaat clan, better known as Data Hussain Gillani Saeen, had initiated this festival in the village after he migrated here from Uch Sharif nearly three centuries ago. Since then, according to the Punjabi (Nanakshahi) calendar, this festival was held every year from the 20th to 24th of the month of Chait that fell in April. The festival had become a part of the tradition of hundreds of villages situated in the north and south of the Ravi and some of the noted clans residing in these villages were Kharals, Wattoos, Baloch, Sadaats, Arains and Bhattis.
Every year, villagers from Sheikhu Sharif and its adjacent villages hosted at their homes the hundreds of visitors to the festival. The festival is being currently supervised by Syed Imtiaz Haider Gillani, who is the present caretaker of the tomb of spiritual leader Syed Hussain Bukhsh. The main attractions of the festival were laying of thechaadar, kabaddi, horse dance, folk singing competition,mehfil-i-samaaand lightening of clay lamps at the tomb.
Late folk singer Reshma was a devotee of the spiritual leader and had performed at the festival for many years, which had become one of the main highlights of the celebration.
A majority of the villagers here were small land owners, field workers and cattle breeders. So, this five-day event was a major source of entertainment for them.The festival also featured several stalls of traditional sweets,khussas, leathertillasandals, traditional clothes --lungiandlaacha, circus and street theatre.
Originally published in Dawn, April 6th, 2020