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JK: Pandits, Muslim rejoin at mela

June 11, 2008 16:03 IST
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It was an emotional reunion of Kashmiri Pandits visiting the valley for the first time since their migration about two decades ago, and local Muslims on the occasion of annual Khir Bhawani mela at Tulmulla in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday.


Emotional scenes were witnessed when Muslims greeted their Pandit brethren with flowers in their hands on the latter's arrival from different parts of the country.


The Kashmiriyat has ultimately emerged winner despite attempts by people with vested interest to dilute it, said a group of Pandits and Muslims after they greeted each other.


Ghulam Rasool, a local resident said, as a child he used to attend almost every mela with his father.


"'I am still emotionally attached to the mela which provides me a satisfaction," he said, adding, "the people of the area are waiting for this day the entire year."


He said, "Though we did not get any monetary benefit from the mela, we enjoy it as money is not everything in the world, especially for a true Kashmiri irrespective of the religion he belongs to."


"In the years of turmoil, only few hundreds, besides security force personnel were visiting the shrine. But for the past several years, the number of devotees is increasing," he added.


Everyone was flooded with emotions when an elderly Muslim from Badgam saw his childhood friend J N Raina among devotees.


"It was an Eid for me to see my friend once again during my lifetime, said Mohammad Ramzan Bhat."


He said a common friend had informed him about Raina visiting Tulmulla.


"'I left my home early in the morning to reach here to meet my friend.'' A number of devotees said they are visiting the shrine for the first time since they migrated from here in 1989 due to turmoil.


We were sacred after going through the media reports about the situation in Kashmir, but here the situation is normal, they said.


They, however, added that the most fascinating thing for them was that the Kashmiri Muslims had and exhibited the same brotherhood, love and respect for others.


The devotees said before their migration, they used to visit Khir Bhawani temple once a month for conducting havan and puja The temple is associated with the Hindu godess Ragnya Devi and the annual festival is held on Jesht Ashtami (May- June).


Devotees also throng on every Shukla Paksh Ashtami round the year and perform 'hawan'.


The historic temple of Kheer Bhiwani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh.


Muslim persons could be seen providing flowers, milk and other articles to Pandits for puja.


''The mela is incomplete with the support of Kashmiri Muslim bretheren,'' said one Ashwani Kumar, who is now settled in Mumbai.


He said the turmoil period was a bad dream and now everyone should forget it and move ahead.


The Pandits visiting the place for the first time said majority Pandits, particularly elders, are eager to return to their roots and settle here once again. The younger generation is eager to visit Kashmir, he added.

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