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Explained: Why Punjab govt has declared gazetted holiday on Nabha Dass birth anniversary

The Punjab government has announced a gazetted holiday on the birth anniversary of Guru Nabha Dass, a 16th century saint, taking it out from the list of restricted holidays. What is his connection with Punjab?

Devotees during the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nabha Dass last year. (Express)

Punjab government Friday announced gazetted holiday on the birth anniversary of Guru Nabha Dass, a 16th century saint, taking it out from list of restricted holidays.

Who was Guru Nabha Dass and where did he hail from?

Guru Nabha Dass was born on April 8, 1537 at village Bhadrachalam on the bank of Godavari river in Khammam district, which falls in the present day Telangana. Dr Purushottam Bhajura, the chief organiser of Goswami Guru Nabha Das Mahasha Sewa Samiti, Pathankot told The Indian Express that Guru Nabha Dass belonged to Mahasha also known as doom or dumna community, which is one of the Schedule Caste communities. People from this community are also known as Nabhadassias. The community members are known for making baskets and grain storage containers with bamboo. Nabha Dass was five years old when his parents — mother Janki Devi and father Ramdas — passed away and two religious gurus — Agar Dass and Keel Dass — who were passing through his village took the orphan child to a temple at Ghalta Dham, which is now main pilgrimage of Nabhadassias, at Jaipur. Dr Bhajura said that since childhood Guru Nabha Dass, whose original name was Narayan Dass, had an inclination towards spirituality.

Dr Bhajura said that Guru Nabha Dass wrote ‘Bhagatmal’ in 1585. It has the life history of around 200 saints. He died in 1643.

What is his connection with Punjab?

Dr. Bhajura said that Guru Nabha Dass used to visit village Pandori in Gurdaspur district where people of Doom community live. Some gurus of the community also used to live there.

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He said that neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Jammu states also have a sizeable presence of the community. He said that Kullu Dussehra is celebrated for a week on the directions of Guru Nabha Dass.

Followers of Guru Nabha Dass celebrate his birthday in Pathankot (Express)

How many followers of Guru Nabha Dass in Punjab?

There are around 30 lakh people of Mahasha community who live in Punjab, including around one lakh in Pathankot it self. The community has 41 temples including 25 in Pathankot. As per an estimate, people of the community have presence in around 421 villages of Pathankot. The community also has a large presence in Gurdaspur and Amritsar.

“Our community is very poor and we appeal to Punjab government to give us some land and grant where we can make a pilgrimage centre for Guru Nabha Dass,” said Dr Bhajura.

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What made government announce gazetted holiday now?

Experts says poltical parties can’t manage to ignore the sentiments of such a large community. The community had been requesting the government to declare April 8 as a gazetted holiday since long. “Earlier a local holiday in Gurdaspur was declared by the SAD-BJP government (1997 to 2002),” said Bhajura. In 2004, then chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had also announced a holiday on April 8, but it was a restricted holiday. “This is for the first time that it has been included in Punjab Government’s calendar,” said Dr Bhajura.

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First published on: 09-04-2022 at 02:52:42 am
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