Thousands offer liquor at shrine, COVID-19 norms shredded to bits
Notwithstanding the surge in COVID-19 cases, several devotees without face masks and not adhering to social distancing norms converged to pay obeisance to Baba Rode Shah shrine in Punjab's Amritsar district and offered liquor bottles to seek his blessings. The unusual fair, being held for the last 90 years, ended on Wednesday in Bhoma village, situated on the Amritsar-Fatehgarh Churian Road.
Baba known for offering liquor to devotees but never drank
A relative of Baba and sarpanch of Bhoma, Gurnek Singh, who manages the shrine, said Baba used to collect liquor in a vessel and offer it to his devotees, but he himself never drank. Though liquor is offered at the shrine throughout the year, the offering increases during the fair. People make a beeline to receive the prasad as well.
Animated devotees throng the samadhi for grant of a boon
Earlier, the first day of the fair was reserved for male devotees while the second day was for women. But now, men and women make the offering at the same time. "It is a gathering of animated devotees who throng the samadhi of Baba Rode Shah, clutching bottles of liquor as offerings for grant of a boon," said Gursewak Singh of the same village.
Only liquor is accepted as offering from devotees
The liquor is then distributed among devotees, male and female, who drink the liquor as prasad. The uniqueness of this shrine is that only liquor is accepted as an offering from the devotees. The devotees scramble to reach the shrine where liquor is distributed in glasses.
The legend of Baba Rode Shah of Bhoma
The Baba, who belonged to Dhawaan village in Gurdaspur district, settled in Bhoma in 1896. According to the legend, the Baba, who became a saint, was once approached by a farmer as he was childless despite being married for a couple of years. With Baba's blessings, a male child was born to the couple, who offered Rs. 500 to the saint for his blessings.
A horde of people from North India visit the shrine
But Baba refused to accept money and asked the couple to purchase a liquor bottle and offer it as prasad to his devotees. The Baba died in 1924. Since then, a fair is held in his memory every year and people from Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh visit the shrine to seek his blessings by offering and getting liquor as prasad.