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Bhaini Sahib, Ludhiana
Bhaini Sahib or Bhaini Ala is situated at a distance of about 25 kilometres towards the east of Ludhiana, on Ludhiana–Chandigarh Road, with which it is connected by an approach road about 3 kilometres long. The village was originally known as such and came to be called Bhaini Sahib on account of its association with practice of giving the suffix to all notable Sikh religious places. The origin of the name is given as follows in the revenue records of the district pertaining to the Bandobast of 1882 “On taking possession of the areas of the village, Bhunder, the earliest assignee, founded the village named Bhaini. The habitation was, however, deserted and the residents shifted to Bhainin Araian. Once again Ala and Mana, descendants of bhunder, reverted to old site about ninety-seven years ago and founded a new village at the place. The village was given the earlier name with the addition of Ala on account of the name of the founder. The village thus came to be known as Bhaini Ala”. It lies on 70o – 04’ –06” longitude 31o – 52’ –20” latitude. Bhaini Sahib is the headquarters of Namdharis. Guru Ram Singh made the place the center of his activities on shifting there from his birthplace, Bhainin Araian, 2.5 kilometers away, onwards 13th April 1857. Bhaini Sahib as the holy centre of the sect attracts the Namdharis from far and near. A number of landmarks are connected with the various namdhari gurus in succession.
For the first time the annual function was held by the Late Guru Partap Singh on ‘Nirjala Ekadashi’ at Bhaini Sahib in 1906 A.D. in the memory of Late Guru Hari Singh. After some time the date of this annual function was changed by Guru Partap Singh to Bhadra (1st fortnight) or September. From 24-26 Bhadra (September) a big mela is held there every year. The Guru blesses the followers and congregational marriages of Namdharis in a simple way without much expense are solemnised on the occasion. Some of the disciples have raise pucca structures at the site of the mela at their own expense. Once a year a gathering of Namdhari Youth studying in colleges is also held there. At the meeting they are exhorted not to forget their distinguishing characteristics and traditions.
The following places at Bhainin Ala are specially venerated by the Namdharies:
- Thara– Harimander (raised platform) is a place where Guru Ram Singh is said to have prayed and performed religious ceremonies. In the morning Asa Di War is sung there. In the evening a lamp filled with ghee is lighted and one hour Nam Simran and kirtan are performed there.
- Loh (a big round iron pan)- designed and made by Guru Ram Singh is used for preparing Chapaties. However, only such persons as do not drink tap water are allowed to see it at close quarters. Others are allowed to look at it from a distance. The pan is used ordinarily as also at the time of a ‘mela’ along with other pans. During ‘melas’ a few prashadas (chapatis) are prepared on this pan, and, then these are mixed with those, which are prepared on the other pans.
- Ram Sar (Sarowar)– this tank was dug under the orders of Late Guru Hari Singh. It is believed that those who bathe in it, get rid of their bodily ailments. The water is also considered beneficial for children suffering from rickets and may be served with spoons. It is proposed to make the enclosure of the sarowar pucca. For the present only the stairs leading to the water have been constructed with burnt bricks.
- Diwan-wala Makan or Mandir– Free langar has been organized at the place from 1849 A. D. and is being run uninterruptedly. It is open to all irrespective of caste and creed for 24 hours.
- Akalbunga– Situated outside the village is the place where Guru Ram Singh used to perform his worship alone. The well situated near this place has also got great importance for the Namdhari Sikhs. The martyrs of Malerkotla, were said to a have been seen off here by Guru Ram Singh.
- Gaddi Sahib– This chubara (upper storey) is the place where late Guru Hari Singh used to perform diwans, etc.
- Havankund– Late Guru Partap Singh is said to have performed, 1,25,000 recitations of Chandi Di War to check the opening of a slaughterhouse in Lahore in 1938. Havan is usually performed here during the Bhadra mela.
- Place of Prayer connected with Guru Pratap Singh– This small Thara (pucca Platform) was constructed by Guru Partap Singh and he used to perform his jap proyog (to sit for prayers after bathing a little after the midnight and continue upto about 1 ˝ hours before dawn) every year during the monsoon. He used to conclude it at the Bhadra mela.
- Warni- A continuous prayer (for 24 hours) is being performed here. Late Guru Partap Singh started it in 1934 A. D.. A ghee lamp is burnt continuously and the Dhoop is put on the burning coal. The man on prayer duty is changed after two hours.
Sri Guru Jagjit Singh started the other warni in 1959-60 in the Kothi (the residential place of late Guru Partap Singh) situated in the garden. This is being continued in the same manner.
All buildings connected with the religious order, as mark simplicity, have thatched roofs. Another special feature of Bhaini Sahib is that there is no hand-pump or tap in the whole village and residents drink water drawn from the wells. This is perhaps due to the great respect for cow and the feeling that the leather washer used in the tap might be made of the hide of the cow.
The present head of the Namdharis, guru Jagjit Singh, lives alternatively at Bhaini Sahib and Jiwan Nagar (Sirsa, Hissar district, Haryana) where a new township has been raise exclusively for the Namdharis.
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