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Kashmiri Pandits on Tuesday celebrated Shivratri, locally known as Herath, with great fervor as the snowfall added to the festivities. The festival holds an important place among Kashmiri Pandits who celebrate it to mark the wedding of Shiva and Parvati. 

The biggest gathering took place at Shankaracharya Temple overlooking Dal Lake. Hundreds of devotees thronged Khir Bhawani temple at 

Tullamulla in district Ganderbal too. The temple authorities at Ganpatyar and Hanuman Mandir at Amira Kadal also held special Pooja throughout the day followed by celebrations in the evening.

Kumar Wanchoo, a Kashmiri Pandit living in Jawahar Nagar, said the snowfall was a good omen. “Snowfall on the eve of Shivratri is the best possible thing we had prayed for. It has not just brought an end to the long dry spell in the Valley but also gives hope that bonding among all the communities will become stronger,” Wanchoo said. 

Manohar Lalgami, a Kashmiri Pandit from Budgam said special Pooja held in Kashmiri houses holds major significance on the day of Shivratri. “Shivrarti is mostly a family-centric festival, so people spend time with their near and dear ones,” Lalgami said. Lalgami recounted that during the yesteryears, artisans and craftsmen on this day used to bring their tools to  people’s home and used to be given either cash or kind as a ritual.

Pandit Bhushan Lal, a Kashmiri Pandit from Ganpatyar, who is also a member of the local Trust said efforts were made to ensure that local temple wore a decorated look.

“While vegetarian food is relished on Shivratri day, we look forward to non-vegetarian delicacies such as traditional Kashmiri dishes including fish and dishes prepared from Mutton on the day of Salaam which falls on Wednesday. People from all other communities visiting our homes and participating in the festivities is a heart-warming gesture,” said Lal.