Srinagar, Jun 10 : The annual ‘Mela Kheer Bhawani’, the most important festival of Kashmiri pandits, associated with Hindu Goddess Ragnya Devi was Monday celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety at Tulmulla area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and Kupwara with thousands of Pandith devotees participated in the function.
The annual festival is held on Jesht Ashtami (May-June) when Kashmiri pandits visit the place in large number to offer prayers to seek the blessings of the deity.
Nestled in the shade of mammoth Chinar trees, the temple witnessed huge rush of devotees, most of them Kashmiri Pandits, who made the journey from across the country.
Walking barefoot, the devotees carried rose petals and offered tribute to the goddess as men took a dip in the stream close to the shrine, which according to the devotees wash their sins.
As devotees jostled with each other to move closer to the main temple complex, the chants of hymns echoed through the temple compound. The devotees also prayed for peace and return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley.
“It is so beautiful and people here are friendly, very hospitable and simple. I have made my mind to return. During the prayers, we pray for peace and our return,” said Ashish Kumar, 55, a migrant who had come from Jammu to celebrate the festival.
Besides seeking blessings, Kashmiri Pandits offered milk and flower petals to Ragnya Devi during the mela. The changing colors of the spring are believed to foretell the months ahead.
“It was heartening to see Muslims assisting the Pandit community on this auspicious occasion,” he said.
Meanwhile, the district administration Ganderbal had made adequate arrangements for the devotees, including accommodation, water, electricity, medical assistance besides stocked ration there.
Meanwhile, devotees also thronged to the temple of Mata Kheer Bhawani Asthanapa in Tikker in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. (KNS)