Kheer Bhawani Mela rekindles new hope among displaced Pandits every year

Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar flagging off Kheer Bhawani yatris at Nagrota on Friday —Excelsior/Rakesh
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Ramesh Kumar flagging off Kheer Bhawani yatris at Nagrota on Friday —Excelsior/Rakesh

4500 pilgrims leave for holy shrines amid tight security

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 26: Though uprooted from their homes and hearths in Kashmir about 34 years back, the annual Kheer Bhawani Mela every year rekindles a new hope among lakhs of displaced Pandits of their return and rehabilitation in their ancestral land.

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With their emotional attachment to holy shrine of Mata Kheer Bhawani which is one of the most sacred religious places, the Kashmir Pandits being away from their homeland for over three decades are anxiously waiting for the Jesht Ashtami to pay obeisance to Goddess on this day.
As the day of annual yatra is nearing about 4500 devotees mostly members of Kashmir Pandit community today left from here for the annual Kheer Bhawani Mela in Kashmir.
Amid tight security, these yatris today left from Nagrota area here to attend the annual mela in Kashmir, officials said.
The annual Kheer Bhawani Mela, celebrated on Zeisht Ashtami, will take place on May 28 at the shrines of Tulmulla (Ganderbal), Tikker (Kupwara), Laktipora Aishmuqam (Anantnag), Mata Tripursundri Devsar (Kulgam), and Mata Kheerbhawani Manzgam (Kulgam) in the Valley.
The four-day pilgrimage commenced today as Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Ramesh Kumar, Relief Commissioner, K K Sidha and prominent Kashmiri Pandit leaders including Kiran Wattal, president Mata Kheer Bhawani Yatra Welfare Society jointly flagged off the yatra from Nagrota area, ensuring the safety and well-being of the devotees.
“The Relief Department, administration, and security forces have made comprehensive arrangements to ensure the success of this pilgrimage,” Divisional Commissioner, Ramesh Kumar told reporters at the sidelines off flagging off ceremony.
This year, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 Kashmiri Pandits from various parts of India and abroad are expected to visit the five renowned temples in the Valley during the annual fair.
Preparations are in full swing at the famous Ragnya Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.
The Dharmarth Trust, which organises the mela, said all arrangements have been put in place. Some final touches were being given to the arrangements.
“I appeal to all to come in large numbers and take blessings of the deity. All arrangements have been put in place by the Dharmarth Trust with the cooperation of the district administration,” Darshan Kumar, Manager of the Trust, said.
The administration has implemented rigorous security measures, including sniffer dogs, metal detectors, and thorough verification of devotees. A large number of security personnel are escorting the yatra, ensuring the safety of the pilgrims.
“Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha on Thursday took a review of the preparations. The arrangements are better than last year,” Darshan said.
President of the Mata Kheer Bhawani Yatra Welfare Society Kiran Watal said, “The LG administration and police have provided excellent arrangements and security measures. Everything is progressing smoothly. This is the first time in the history of this yatra that such massive arrangements have been made.
Various socio religious organisations have also reached Tulmulla to serve langar to pilgrims. A team of SRMA Vivekananda Kendra Nagdandi led by its chairman B L Bhat Katal has reached Tulmulla yesterday and installed Langar to serve the pilgrims.
Katal said that Langar service will be available for round the clock during Yatra days at Tulmulla. He said local people have also given a good response to the yatris and they welcomed the pilgrims enroute. He however demanded that in view of bad weather as it has been raining in Kashmir since the morning the authorities need to make elaborate arrangements for the providing tented accommodations to pilgrims.
The elaborate arrangements have also been made at other shrines of Mara including Tikker Kupwara, Tripur Sundri and Manjgam in Kulgam, Lokripora in Anatnag etc for the pilgrims.
At Manzgam the mela will start from tomorrow where the pooja to ancient Sandal tree will be held in the morning in a traditional manner, president Kheer Bhawani Shrine Committee Manzgam, Kuldeep Raina said.