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Chakwal’s oldest fair defies modernism

February 20, 2012

Bull show. – AP Photo

CHAKWAL: A bull show, locally called Jalsa, held in a village here the other day provided much-needed excitement and recreation to the local people.

Talagang Road leading to the Mureed village witnessed an unusual flow of traffic. There were trucks loaded with bulls, and people travelling on tractors, vans, cars, motorbikes and even on foot towards the arena.

Chaudhry Shaukat, who organised the event, chose his own patti (land) of three acres. The soil was softened by ploughing with tractors. All sides of the patti were thronged by spectators except the entrance and exit fixed for the bulls. Many people danced as the local artists beat drums and played flutes.

The bulls were brought from different villages of Chakwal and Potohar. The wait of the crowd ended when announcer Tora Khan called the first pair of bulls to the arena. More than 50 pairs of bulls were set in the arena but very few of them came up to the expectations of the onlookers.

The Jalsa is not only a bull race rather it has different interpretations. A pair of bulls is pinioned in a panjali (yoke). A karah (plank made of wood) is put behind the bulls and is tied to the yoke. Three persons hold the two bulls from the front side. Three others put the karah on the soft land and press it down. The karah drags soil which causes burden for the bulls. The three persons behind sit on the karah and thus the load for the bulls gets manifold. Now the bull that drags the tough burden without losing its speed and temper is supposed to be the winner. There is no umpire who declares the winner bull rather it is up to the crowd. “The bull that walks fast with measured steps with an attractive gait forces the spectators to declare it as winner,” explains bull owner Noman Haider from the Maingan village.

Though many untoward incidents occur during a Jalsa but the interesting thing is that there is no intervention from the government. Neither there are police nor Rescue personnel during the event. To manage a rough crowd requires rough measures. When any person or persons try to disturb the show they are first requested by the organisers not to spoil the fair.

But when the irritants do not pay any heed, the organisers throw dust on them which teaches them a lesson of mannerism.

Jalsa is as old as Chakwal itself. Despite the fact that modernism is engulfing many cultural games and fairs, it continues to attract more and more people.

“We are witnessing more such events in a year and the young generation seems fonder of this historic show,” said Chaudhry Shaukat.

The price of a bull has skyrocketed. A bull fitting for Jalsa costs Rs1,000,000 to Rs1,500,000.