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Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Kheer Bhawani festival

Amidst chanting of religious hymns and sound of temple bells, thousands of Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday prayed at the famous temple of Ragnya Devi here in Kashmir’s Ganderbal district on the occasion of annual Kheer Bhawani mela — a symbol of Hindu-Muslim amity.

Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Kheer Bhawani festival
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Kashmiri Pandits offering prayers at the Kheer Bhawani temple in Srinagar on Sunday

Ganderbal

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also paid obeisance at the revered temple. The atmosphere was filled with fervour and brotherhood as devotees congregated at the temple of Mata Kheer Bhawani which is situated amidst majestic chinar trees. 

The mela has become a symbol of communal harmony as local Muslims make all the arrangements for the devotees including setting up of stalls for flowers and other offerings. Walking barefoot and carrying rose petals, the devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, thronged the temple to pay obeisance to the deity while offering milk and kheer (pudding) at the sacred spring within the complex.

It is believed that the colour of the sacred spring water which flows below the temple indicates to the situation in the Valley.

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. However, this year the water in the spring was clean and pure which the devotees believe is a good omen for the Valley. Shortly after Mehbooba left the venue, a group of Pandits staged a protest raising slogans against the government and police for a stone-pelting incident on Saturday in which a devotee was injured.

“We were welcomed with stones on Saturday. Is this how they want us to return?” a protester said. 

Need to instil confidence among Pandits: Mehbooba 

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Sunday said there was a need to instil confidence among Kashmiri Pandits for their permanent return to the Valley and the present situation was not such that they could live in their native places. 

“I will only appeal to Kashmiri Pandits that they should trust us and pray. We are trying to create peace here, Kashmir is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits,” Mehbooba said.

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