This is a religious festival, celebrated all over Haryana. It is connected with snake-worship and observed in August-September. A number of legends have clustered around Gugga Pir or Zahir Pir (the saint). He is also referred to as Baggar wala because of his grave near Dadrewa near Ganga nagar, a tract over which he is said to have ruled. He was reputed to have the power of curing people of snake-bite. Monday is his day, the date being 9th. The shrine is distinguished by its square shape with minarets and domed roof. It is called ‘Mari’. The important Gugga fairs are held at Bawal (Bawal Tahsil), Asadpur, Bikaner, Dharuhere, Darauli, Suruora, Jatusana, Rohria, Turkiawas (Rewari Tahsil), Nautana, Bawana, Kuksi, Kanina, Patherwa, Bawania, Maupura (Mahendragarh Tahsil), Hudiana, Kauwi, Nangal Chaudhary, Ateli and Narnaul (Narnaul Tahsil).
The Generous Snake King
Guga, the snake king is not malevolent, as the saying goes “Guga beta na dega, tan kuchh na chhin lega” meaning ‘if Guga does not give me a son, at least he will take nothing away from me.” Guga, a Chauhan Rajput, was born at Garhdera near Sirsa. His mother Bachal, who was reprimanded by all for being barren, had served saint Gorakhnath, the founder of the community of ‘Kanphata Jogis’ for twelve years and after the rigorous penance, Guga was born to her. Guga is said to have possessed supernatural powers and could cure snake bitten person within no time.
A long bamboo with the top adorned with peacock plumes, a coconut, some coloured threads, hand fans (bijna) and a blue flag mark the celebrations. This is called his ‘chhari’ or fly flap. On the 9th day of the month of Sawan, the saints take it round the village, along with the thumping of drums. People pay obeisance to it and offer ‘churmas’.
The five devotees who are the main dancers while singing the praise of the Pir accompanied by their instruments like dholak, manjiras, deru, chimta and cymbals dance in tune with the rhythm shedding tears and beating their chests with iron chains.
If a snake bit a man, people thought he had been neglecting Guga. The singers of devotional songs dedicated to Guga are found in villages Assan Kalan, Richhpur, Matlauda and Samalkha. Maris (his temples) are, of course, to be found in a large number of villages.