Ganderbal (Jammu and Kashmir): Setting an example of real ‘Kashmiriyat’, the Kashmiri Pandits celebrated the annual Kheer Bhawani festival in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and prayed for peace in the Valley as people from the Muslim community accompanied them in their celebration.
On this occasion, the Pandits offered prayers at the annual Kheer Bhawani mela on the occasion of Zyeshta Ashtami. However, the number of devotees was less due to the recent targeted killings in the Valley which have cast a shadow on the festivities.
The Kheer Bhawani festival is celebrated to spread the message about the brotherhood between the pandit community and Muslims of the Valley. That’s why Muslims come forward to extend help and stand with the families of Pandits during the festival and provide them moral support.
Speaking on the matter, Dr Sandeep, a Kashmiri Pandit said, ‘We have come here to keep the tradition of our ancestors alive. It’s a moment of pride to come back to our own Valley and meet our Muslim and Sikh brothers. We seek blessings from the Lord. This time the number of devotees this year was far less than in the past due to the prevailing atmosphere of fear. Pakistan does not want that the Hindus and Muslims and all regions live in peace in India.’
‘Kheer Bhawani’s Mandir is one of the revered places for the Kashmiri Pandits. Even the Muslims came along with me here,’ he added.
Dr Rizwan, a Muslim man who had come along with his Pandit friend said that the ‘actual Kashmiriyat’ is being visible here.
‘It is a unique festival. The actual Kashmiriyat is visible here. We have seen terrorism for long. But the Kashmiriyat that the Kashmiri people were known for all across the world. It is unfortunate that there are not many people around because of the recent killings. I just appeal to my Hindu brothers not to make their nefarious designs successful by being afraid,’ he said.
A devotee Daisy Bhatt who had come to offer prayers at the Kheer Bhawani temple said that they have only prayed for peace to prevail in the Valley.
‘We are feeling very good after offering prayers here. We just pray for peace here so that all of us can live here happily,’ she said.
Another Muslim man who had set up a water stall at the venue, said, ‘it is our tradition, it is our brotherhood. Muslims and Pandits live together, we have grown up together.’
‘The Kashmiri pandits are incomplete without us. We are always there with them. We are brothers. Kashmir is incomplete without them. We will continue to live like the way we lived earlier,’ he said.