The annual Kheerbhawani mela was celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety at the Tumulla village in this central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, with Home Minister Amit Shah greeting the devotees and thanking the Lieutenant Governor-led administration for successfully conducting the event.
Devotees from various parts of the country thronged the revered temple to pay obeisance. With the presence of local Muslims, the festival depicts a centuries-old bond of love between the majority community and Kashmiri Pandits.
Nestled in the shades of mammoth Chinar trees, the temple witnessed a huge rush of devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, performing the festival rituals. Special prayers were held, with devotees offering milk and kheer to the sacred spring.
This year, a good number of devotees were witnessed as compared to last year, an official said.
“Ganderbal comes alive with the spirit of togetherness as the Kheerbhawani mela brings devotees and tourists together, bound by a shared reverence for tradition,” a Kashmiri Pandit said.
“We have been coming here for the last two years and we feel very happy and joyful here. Nature is very overwhelming and attractive, the people are very helpful and welcoming,” said another Kashmiri Pandit, who wished not to be named.
A local Muslim said, “A sign of communal harmony is always revisited at this temple during the historical mela which has not only remained limited to the festival but also provides an opportunity for local Muslims to reunite with the Pandit community who unfortunately had to migrate from their homeland three decades ago.”
Emotional scenes were witnessed and exchanged between the two communities. This annual festival becomes a source of income as well for the local Muslims who set up stalls outside the temple to sell everything needed to perform the rituals.
The stalls are established by both men and women folk of the area.
The arrangements were made by the district administration through various departments. Other essential services and adequate medical facilities were also put in place.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah extended his wishes and congratulated Lieutenant Governor of J-K Manoj Sinha, CAPFs, J-K Police and the local administration for the “successful completion” of the Kheerbhawani mela
“The Kheer Bhawani Mela held on Jyeshtha Ashtami in Kashmir occupies a sacred place in the spiritual realm of the Kashmiri Pandit sisters and brothers(sic),” Shah wrote on his official Twitter handle, adding that more than 25,000 devotees attended the mela.
“May the divine grace of Maa Kheer Bhawani always be with us,” the Home Minister tweeted.
The LG also greeted the people on the occasion, “Heartiest greetings to all, especially to sisters & brothers from Kashmiri Pandit community, on the auspicious occasion of Jyeshtha Ashtami. May the blessings of Mata Kheer Bhawani continue to guide us in the path of righteousness & shower her blessings on all for years to come(sic),” the LG tweeted.
The district administration and district police Ganderbal were on their toes to provide facilities to the devotees. Deputy Commissioner Shyambir and SSP Ganderbal Nikhil Borkar themselves monitored the situation.
The SSP also extended his warm greetings to the Police Pariwar, the people of Ganderbal particularly the Kashmiri Pandit community, on the auspicious occasion. Various political regional parties also provided services as a goodwill gesture towards devotees.
Another Kashmiri Pandit, Sonu Zeahti, said the colour of the spring was pink a fortnight back and now it is blue. “The blue signifies the colour of peace,” he said and expressed hope that there would be peace and tranquility in Jammu & Kashmir. “If the spring turns red or black, it is seen as a bad omen,” Sonu added.
“This type of atmosphere is very overwhelming as our children are very happy here. Our children will meet local Kashmiris here, and this meeting will strengthen their bond, which will benefit us as well,” Sonu further said.
Another local Kashmiri, Bilal Ahmad Wani, said, “Today is the festival of our Pandit brothers, and this festival represents brotherhood and peace. It unites everyone, whether they are Hindu, Sikh, Christian or Muslim. We can say it is a festival for everyone, not only for Hindus.” (KNO)