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Kashmiri Pandits pray for peace, unity

Amid nostalgia and tears, emotional reunion at Mela Kheer Bhawani
01:01 AM Jun 15, 2024 IST | Irfan Raina
kashmiri pandits pray for peace  unity

Tulmulla, June 14: On the occasion of the annual Mela Kheer Bhawani in the Tulmulla area of Ganderbal district on Friday, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits thronged the Kheer Bhawani Temple and prayed for peace.


The temple witnessed the participation of devotees, most of them displaced Kashmiri Pandits, who had come from various parts of J&K and outside.


The entire route from Ganderbal to the Kheer Bhawani Temple wore a festive look as vehicles carrying devotees in colourful dresses converged in long rows at the temple.


Singing hymns, chanting slogans, and walking barefoot, the devotees carried rose petals and offered tribute to the Hindu goddess Mata Ragnya Devi.


Men took a dip in the stream close to the shrine.


The atmosphere in today’s congregation created nostalgia about the times when Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims lived side by side across the length and breadth of the Valley.


With tears in their eyes and roses in their hands as a symbol of love, these displaced Pandits folded their hands and prostrated before Mata Ragnya Devi with the motive of seeking her blessings.


The Kashmiri Pandit devotees said that they yearn for peace to prevail in the Valley, their homeland.

“We are here to participate in the Mela Kheer Bhawani. I want to see the blessings of Mata Kheer Bhawani being showered on Kashmir and normalcy and peace returning here,” said a Kashmir Pandit devotee.

The Kashmiri Pandits devotees also praised the hospitality exhibited by local Muslims.

“I am so happy that I came here. I prayed for peace and harmony. I was glad to see young boys, both Muslims and Hindus making arrangements for the festival,” said Santosh Nath, a Kashmiri Pandit.

Ashok Kaul, a Pandit who hailed from Mattan Anantnag before displacement to Jammu in 1991 said that they yearn for peace in Kashmir so that they can return to our homeland.

“We are here to meet our Muslim brothers and participate in the Mela Kheer Bhawani. I want to see the blessings of Mata Kheer Bhawani getting showered on every Kashmiri and normalcy returning to Kashmir forever,” another Kashmir Pandit said.

The Kashmiri Pandits also praised the hospitality exhibited by local Muslims.

Apart from religious significance, the Kashmiri Pandit community uses the annual festival to visit their homeland and meet with their friends.

“The atmosphere here is good. When we see our Muslim brothers, emotions run high and our eyes get moist. My friends came here to meet me and I felt so good about meeting them. We get to meet once a year,” said Rakesh Raina, who lives in Jagati, Jammu.

Mir Naveed, a local, said that the Muslim community welcomed the guests with open arms and wants the Kashmiri Pandits to return to the Valley.

“Our houses are open for our guests. We want this love, brotherhood, and peace to stay forever,” he said.

Tourists coming from different parts of the country were also seen paying obeisance at the temple.

A group of tourists said that they had seen the temple for the first time and were feeling happy.

“There is a solace and we felt good on seeing Muslims and Pandits celebrating the Mela together,” said a tourist.

Various social organisations and government departments had set up refreshment stalls for the devotees.

Stringent security arrangements were also made to ensure a secure and peaceful festival.

The devotees thanked the administration for making proper arrangements for the smooth conduct of the festival.

The Mela Kheer Bhawani is held every year on ‘Jeshtha Ashtami’.

According to Hindu beliefs, the goddess changes the colour of the spring's waters, which are ascribed to different manifestations of the goddess.

Turning of the colour into shades of black is supposed to signal approaching disaster while the milky colour of the spring indicates peace and prosperity for Jammu and Kashmir.