Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits on Monday converged at Tulla Mulla, a sleepy village about 27 km north of Srinagar, to participate in the annual Khir Bhawani mela.
Among them were many of the displaced families of the Valley’s Brahmin Hindus who travelled all the way from Jammu, Delhi and other places in the country to pay obeisance at their most revered place of worship back home.
Politicians also made a beeline to Tulla Mulla to mingle with the devotees and go over their often stated assertion “Kashmir is incomplete without Pandits”.
The state government provided free bus services for the Pandits living outside the state to facilitate their travel to Tulla Mulla in Ganderbal district. Hundreds of others drove in their own cars and other light motor vehicles.
According to Jammu’s divisional commissioner Sanjeev Verma, the devotees travelled to Tulla Mulla and other places of Hindu worship in the Valley from the winter capital in 99 buses. The authorities had arranged special pick up points at different locations in Jammu city and in its neighbourhood, including at Jagti, Purkhoo, Nagrota and Muthi migrant camps to facilitate the devotees, the officer said.
A similar facility was made available at “Kashmir House” at Prithvi Raj Road, New Delhi. The officials said that a large number of pilgrims travelled to the Valley also from Mumbai, Chandigarh and other parts of the country either on their own or in government provided transport.
A vast majority of Kashmiri Pandits fled their homes and hearth after the separatist campaign burst into a major violence in 1989-90. Majority of the displaced families took shelter in makeshift or rented accommodations in Jammu, Delhi and other parts of the country.
Khir Bhawani is a historic temple which sits next to a sacred stream at Tulla Mulla. Kashmiri Pandits turn up in thousands at the place of worship during the annual mela (fair) in June to seek blessings from the goddess Ragnya Devi coinciding with the festival of Zeystha Ashtami.
J&K governor Satya Pal Malk who also visited Khir Bhawani said, “This festival is a shining example of communal harmony and brotherhood.”