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Pandits celebrate Khir Bhawani Shrine festival in Kashmir

May 31, 2009 20:47 IST

Image: An Om sign made out of mud lamps at the Khir Bhawani shrine
Photographs: Umar Ganie

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits streamed into Tulmulla from various parts of the country for the annual festival of the Khir Bhawani shrine, north of Srinagar.

The Pandit diaspora has been keeping their date with the temple, the most revered Pandit shrines in Kashmir even after their mass migration in 1990.

Their attendance at the festival has been increasing with each year and this year too thousands are at the shrine to pay obeisance to the revered deity.

Text: Mukhtar Ahmad


The Khir Bhawani festival

Image: The sanctum sanctorum at Khir Bhawani
Photographs: Umar Ganie

Using all modes of transport, the Pandit families started arriving at the shrine since Saturday evening for a night long Puja at the temple.

Local Pandits traditionally believe that the colour of the spring inside the shrine on the festival day is a portent of forthcoming events.

The Khir Bhawani festival

Image: A devotee offers milk at the temple
Photographs: Umar Ganie

Sanjay Bhat has come from Jammu with his family, for the festival. "I am happy to be back here after 20 long years. We want to return to the valley and have prayed today at the shrine for peace here. It is upto the government to facilitate our return."

The Khir Bhawani festival

Image: Devotees at the Khir Bhawani shrine
Photographs: Umar ganie

Parikhshat Koul who had come from Delhi said, "We come here every year to pray for peace and prosperity. The facilities at the shrine complex have improved."

Nirmala, who continues to live in the valley said, "We don't feel any fear and are living in complete brotherhood with our Muslim neighbours."

The local Muslims have been actively participating in providing basic necessities to the devotees which includes a warm welcome to their Pandit brethren by serving them milk.

The Khir Bhawani festival

Image: Devotees gather at the shrine
Photographs: Umar Ganie

The local Muslims had set up stalls selling Puja material for the devotees thronging the shrine on a clear and cool May afternoon. The administration had made elaborate security arrangements at the shrine and along the route from capital Srinagar.

In his message, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the festival epitomized the mutual brotherhood and communal amity and added this day would bring in a new dawn of peace, prosperity and development in Jammu and Kashmir.