J-K: Kashmiri Pandits celebrate annual "Kheer Bhawani Mela" in Ganderbal

J-K: Kashmiri Pandits celebrate annual "Kheer Bhawani Mela" in Ganderbal
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Ganderbal, Jammu and Kashmir: A large number of Kashmiri Pandits on Sunday offered prayers at the famous Ragnya Devi Temple during the annual "Kheer Bhawani Mela" at Tulmulla in Ganderbal.

Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chief Mehbooba Mufti also visited the annual 'Kheer Bhawani Mela' to pay obeisance.

"I came here to welcome our Kashmiri Pandit brothers who have come from Jammu and other places. We are here to pray for their return who left their homes so that once again Hindu-Muslim-Kashmiri Pandits live together in Kashmir with brotherhood," Mufti told reporters on Sunday.

This mela is the most important festival of Kashmiri Pandits. The festival indicates and spreads the message about the brotherhood between the Pandits community and Muslim brothers.

Speaking to ANI, one of the visitors said, "It is one of the peaceful places. We enjoy ourselves a lot after visiting here. Different communities have arrived in this mela. I heard that around 60 buses have departed from Jammu for here. Almost all the workers who worked here are Muslims. We live here peacefully.'

"We celebrate this festival with happiness and we welcome all the devotees with great joy. We all are one there is no difference between us," a Muslim woman said.

"Muslim community people are always helping and standing with Pandit families during the festival and providing them with moral support properly," she added.

Earlier on May 27, Jammu Divisional Commissioner, Ramesh Kumar, flagged off the annual pilgrimage 'Mata Kheer Bahawani Yatra' in Tulmulla of Gandrbal district from Jammu and Kashmir's Nagrota.

Divisional Commissioner Kumar said that Yatra shows that Jammu and Kashmir is moving ahead with peace and development.

"Adequate arrangements were made for the Yatris this year. At least 4500-5000 devotees in 125 buses will visit various temples during the Yatra. It is an indication that we (Jammu and Kashmir) are moving towards peace and development," the divisional commissioner told reporters.

During the fair in Kheer Bhawani Temple in Ganderbal district, devotees including Kashmiri Pandits will visit five famous temples including Tulmulla, Ganderbal; Tikker, Kupwara; Laktipora Aishmuqam, Anantnag and Mata Tripursundri Devsar and Mata Kheerbhawani Manzgam in Kulgam district.

This is one of the biggest religious gatherings of the displaced community at a temple situated at a distance of 25 kilometres northeast of Srinagar. As is the custom with Hindu deities, the goddess has many names including Ragyna or Rajna[c], along with variations in honorifics such as devi, mata or bhagavati.

The term kheer refers to a milk and rice pudding that is offered to propitiate the goddess. Kheer Bhawani is sometimes translated as 'Milk Goddess'. The worship of Kheer Bhawani is universal among the Hindus of Kashmir, most of them worship her as their protective patron deity Kuladevi.