Channan Pir, located about 65 KM from Bahawalpur, is famous for a Sufi Saint who lies buried here in an open grave covered in a green sheet as he wished. The mela which bears his name is celebrated in the Cholistan desert over seven consecutive Thursdays starting in February every year. The fifth Thursday is the most popular day and also observed as a local holiday. It is a centre of the spiritual and cultural heritage of Cholistan.
For hundreds of years, people have come from all corners of Cholistan and beyond to join in the festivities. It is now the most popular festival in southern Punjab, with Hindus and Muslims participating as one in the theatre performances, magic shows, dancing, rides, horse and camel shows, jewelry shopping, and, of course, feasting.
Most of those who come stay overnight and leave on Friday morning, after a magical night on the sand dunes under the wide open sky. The visitors throw tabbaruk (the sacred sweet) and the persons who pick and taste this tabarruk are supposed to be fortunate in achieving their worldly pursuits.
There is a large tree in the middle of the festival which Cholistanis say marks the grave of Channan Peer’s mother. They believe that if a piece of red cloth is tied on a branch, their ‘manats’ (trades with God) will materialise.
The legend about Channan Pir is that he was born to the Raja of Jaisalmer, upon his birth he was predicted to become a Muslim so the Raja threw him out into desert. The child survived and became a Muslim as predicted. He then converted the Hindu herdsmen into Islam. Every year in the month of February Urs, his death anniversary is celebrated with devotees coming across Pakistan to pay their homage where colorful events such Sufi Dancing, camel dancing and other many fascinating events take place.