Kashmiri Pandits throng holy fair

Thousands of Kashmiri Pandit devotees on Friday thronged the famous temple of Ragnya Devi in Tullamulla village of central Kashmir district of Ganderbal on the occasion of annual Kheer Bhawani mela.

Situated amidst Chinar trees in Tullamulla, 24 kms from Srinagar, the revered temple is thronged by devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, every year for paying obeisance.

Kashmiri Pandits, including women and children, converged at the temple from various far-off places including Delhi and Jammu to offer special prayers on the occasion of annual holy day ‘Jyeshth Ashtami.’

Reports said amid the thick smoke of incense sticks and diyas (earthen lamps) flowing with the breeze, a group of Kashmiri Pandit women were busy singing hymns to mark the annual festival.|

Muslims, in a sign of brotherhood, had erected many stalls distributing refreshments and soft drinks among the pilgrims.

The devotees believe the colour of the spring water flowing under the temple hints at the situation in Kashmir.

While most of the colours do not have any particular significance, black or darkish colour of the water is believed to be an indication of inauspicious times for Kashmir.

Some people claim to have observed a murky tinge to the water just before the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the eruption of militancy in 1989 in the Valley.

Around 55,000 Pandit families left their ancestral homes in 1990 and migrated to Jammu and other parts of the country when a bloody insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1989.

Recalling his past, Anil Kumar, who left Valley in February 1990, said, “We wish to come back provided Government makes suitable arrangements for our safe return. I am very keen to spend rest of my life here in Kashmir.”

He said that he visited the valley for the first time after migration and he was elated to see the huge number of Pandits participating in the mela.

Asked what he prayed at the shrine, Kumar said that he along with his family members prayed for peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

“I believe old days of peace will return soon,” he said hopefully.

Omar seeks return

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on Friday said he is looking forward to work with the new government at the Centre on return of displaced Kashmiri Pandit community

“I look forward to working with the new govt as they unveil their plans for the honourable return of the displaced Pandit community,” Omar wrote on his Twitter account.

Omar also extended greetings to the Kashmiri Pandit community on the Kheer Bhawani festival.

“Warm greetings to the members of the Kashmiri Pandit community on the occasion of the Kheer Bhavani Mela. I regret that, I haven’t been able to visit Tulmullah (Kheer Bhawani temple) today,” he said on the micro-blogging site.

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