By Yusuf Jameel
Jun 23rd, 2010
Last week, thousands of pandit expatriates relocated to Khirbhawani, the most revered place of worship of the Kashmiri brahmins located at Tulla Mulla, 27-km north of capital Srinagar, for the annual mela. The fair marks the annual pilgrimage to the sacred spring that stands in the distinctive village surrounded by islets densely covered with poplars, willows and walnut trees to seek the blessings of goddess Ragnya Devi.
The spring is on an island and in the centre of it (spring) is a small marble temple. The occasion was the eighth day of the full moon (Ashtami Shuklapak) when, legend has it, the goddess here changes the colour of the waters of the spring. Rough estimates put the number of the devotees who turned up at the place of worship on June 19, the main day of the celebrations, at 40,000.
But local officials said that not less than 100,000 people, including tourists from across India, paid obeisance at Khirbhawani during the three-day mela from June 17.
Politicians, too, made a beeline at Khirbhawani during the mela to greet the devotees. They, however, could not resist seizing the occasion to advertise their political ideologies. Among them was Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah, who asserted that the mela “epitomises mutual brotherhood and communal amity.”
He added, “It symbolises communal harmony and brotherhood which are the hallmark of the glorious pluralistic ethos of Kashmir.” The chief minister, while reiterating Kashmir was incomplete without pandits, said a multifaceted programme for their return is already in place and that the government has introduced new initiatives to facilitate their return which include earmarking of posts in the government departments and construction of transit accommodation in the towns of Budgam, Mattan and other places.
He intensely tried to reach out to the post-migration generation of the pandits to assure them the government was working to “rejuvenate” the relations, especially between it and the youth of the majority Muslim community. “The new generations have to be reminded of the traditional amity and brotherhood in which their forefathers lived peacefully. This has to be rebuilt and strengthened,” he asserted.
Source: The Asian Age