Bhaderwah is a region of fairs and festivals in Jammu . Its fairs and festivals have profoundly enriched the culture of the people. Mela Patt is a famous festival of Bhaderwah. During these days people, irrespective of caste, creed participate in it in large numbers. “Mela Patt” having medieval origin occupies position among the fairs of Doda District. This is the daytime fair celebrated at “Khakhal”, a centrally located place in the township of Bhaderwah . The celebration is unique and historically traditional festival starts on the fifth day immediately after “Kailash Yatra” that is on the day of “Vinayak Chuturthi” or “Patharchoth”.
Initiation of Mela Patt dates back to the sixteenth century when Akbar the great, was much impressed by the miraculous spritiual power of Raja Nagpal, the ruler of Bhaderwah Principality, at the Mughal Court, attributed to the blessings of the serpent God Nag Raj Vasuki . Much wealth was awarded to Raja Nagpal as a token of respect to the serpent god from imperial treasure by Emperor Akbar. The wealth comprised metallic vessels gold and silver ornaments, silk fabrics and musical instruments etc.
On the evening of “Patharchoth” or “Vinayak Choth” the “Jahari” (the conical metallic pot) is carried by a representative belonging to Raj-purohit family in Bhaderwah. The calmness of the dark starry night is broken with slogans, “Jai Bolo Nagae Basik Ki Jai, Phir Bolo Sanchae Durbar ki Jai,” The procession passes through the Main Bazars of the town. It concludes at the Vasuki Dhera Temple . Next morning after routine worship in the Temple , the Jahari moves to the house of Rajgurus' in Mohalla Khakhal. The team of selected person of the locality called “Dashan” prepare the traditional “Patt Jhanki.” The patt, a heavy load of conical shape with Jahari on the top decently decorated with marigold flowers garlands and ‘Haraii' adorned with hundreds of cloth – pieces of gorgeous colours is now ready for exhibition.
With the break of dawn on Nag Panchami i.e. Rishi Panchmi a devoted person carries this “Patt” on his head in a procession led by the ‘Chela' (Mystic Man) of the deity and the musicians proceed to “Ganesh Math” for paying homage to God. “Ganpati” then the procession raches the compound of the Vasuk Dhera Temple . The Traditional dance is performed before the Naga Deity and this procession later, concludes at the house of Rajgurus in Khakhal. The devotees throng there to have Darshan of “Patt” and pay their homage to Nag Raj Basuki and Raja Nagpal.
The actual fair starts in evening at about 5 O' clock. People form every corner of the region, irrespective of casts, creed or sex come to witness the fair with zeal and reverence, shower flower petals over the “Patt' and the procession. Mela Patt is a dance in multi coloured cloth pieces and is performed at the harmonious beatings of drums, playing on flutes and blowing of horns and conches. The man carrying the “Patt” is encircled by the “Dashans” who help the dancing person in getting him refreshed by supporting the “Patt” in a very typical style. The resting period is of very short duration and dance continues in this manner. This fair continues for three days and these days are of public rejoicing.
On the concluding day of festival, the chief and traditional “Dhakku” dance is performed by the people of the area. “Dhakku” dance has an ancient origin and the people of Bhaderwah have maintained its originality, simplicity separate identity and enchanting effects on the heart and soul. Dhakku dance also known as traditional dance of Dogras has a respectable place in the folk dances of India .