Muslims in Kashmir gear up to welcome Pandits at Ragnya Devi temple

Muslims in Kashmir gear up to welcome Pandits at Ragnya Devi temple

Despite unrest and violence, hundreds of Kashmiri Pandit devotees have reached to the Valley from different parts of the country, to pay obeisance at Ragnya Devi temple in Tullamulla, Ganderbal on the occasion of annual Kheer Bhawani festival on Friday.

Reports said more than 500 Pandit devotees left Jagti Township in Nagrota area on the outskirts of Jammu city on Thursday morning and they are expected to reach Tullamulla by evening. The divisional commissioner, Jammu, Mandeep Bhandari flagged off the fleet of buses.

In Tullamulla hundreds of Muslims are eagerly waiting for their Pandit brethren. "No matter what the situation is in the Valley, Pandits are our brothers. People in and around Tullamulla area wait for the day eagerly throughout the year. This day is special in our village as it gives us a chance to meet our displaced brethren.

They (Pandits) are part and parcel of our society and that will be the happiest day of my life when I would see them back in the Valley,” Abdul Majeed, a resident of Ganderbal told DH.

The festival symbolises Valley’s religious harmony and revives the strong bonds between the Muslims and the Pandits in the Valley, who pray together every year for the return of displaced Pandits. Even after their exodus from Kashmir in 1990 after insurgency broke out, Pandit community has not given up their practice of visiting the temple. Annually thousands of them residing in different parts of the country throng the shrine and interact with their old Muslim neighbours.

This year also thousands of Pandits, including men, women and children are expected at the shrine from various far-off places including Delhi and Jammu to offer special prayers on the occasion of annual Holy day ‘Zyeshth Ashtami.’

Jammu and Kashmir Government has announced holiday in the Kashmir Valley on the occasion of Kheer Bhawani Mela on Friday. Like previous years, Muslims, in a sign of brotherhood, have erected many stalls to distribute refreshments and soft drinks among the pilgrims this time too.

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