By Mohd Majid Malik
Bhaderwah: The Mela Pat, which is celebrated every year for three days to commemorate the historic meet between Mughal emperor Akbar and King Nagpal of Bhaderwah in the 16th century at Delhi, started here on Tuesday at Mohalla Khakhal of Bhaderwah. Thousands of people from different parts of the state participated in the fair, which is devoted to Lord Vaskui Naag, the presiding deity of Bhaderwah valley.
The Mela was first started in 16th century by King Nagpal, ruler of a small principality called Bhaderkashi, now known as Bhaderwah. The Mela is organised on the conclusion of Kailash Yatra and people without any difference of caste, colour and creed participate in the fair.
The traditional Dhaku dance, a unique folk dance of the area, is a regular feature during the Mela. According to legend, Raja Nagpal did not use to bow before anyone except his lord, Vasuki Nag. Once, Mughal emperor Akbar summoned Nagpal to Delhi. It was mandatory for all rulers to bow before the emperor, but Raja Nagpal entered the Darbar and took his seat without bowing to the emperor, which offended Akbar. His courtiers suggested stern action against Raja Nagpal but the latter justified his action by claiming that he does not bow before anybody except his lord, Vasuki Nag. The next day Akbar’s minister decided that the Raja would enter the hall through a small window, compelling him to bow. But instead of bowing his head, King Nagpal projected his legs from the window. This enraged Akbar and he asked him to prove the power of his lord Vasuki Nag or else action will be taken against him. To the surprise of everyone, the colourful turban of King Nagpal turned into a big serpent with many heads. Thereupon Akbar asked for pardon and accorded due place to King Nagpal in his Darbar.
On returning to Bhaderwah on the day of Nag Panchmi, the king made a public display of the costly gifts and wealth given to him by Akbar. Since then, the Mela Pat is celebrated in Bhaderwah.
The local administration makes all arrangements for the mela and the local dance is performed with people raising slogans in praise of Raja Nagpal and Lord Vasuki Naag.