Mela Kheer Bhawani celebrated with fervor, gaiety

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, June 20:  Thousands of devotees today thronged the revered temple of Goddess Ragnya Devi on the occasion of annual Kheer Bhawani festival – a symbol of centuries old Hindu-Muslim unity – at Tulmulla in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.
The devotees – majority of them from Pandit community – who assembled at Kheer Bhawani Shrine at Tulmulla offered their prayers, sang hymns in praise of the goddess and prayed for peace in the State.
They were welcomed by their local Muslim brethren who like past had made arrangements for ‘Puja’ and other rituals.
Amid chants of Vedic hymns and ringing of bells at the temple which is situated amid the majestic Chinar trees, the atmosphere was filled with fervor and brotherhood between Hindus and the Muslims.
The annual Mela Kheer Bhawani is a symbol of centuries old brotherhood as local Muslims make all arrangements for devotees and even set up stalls selling flowers and other material for the devotees to offer at the temple.

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Walking barefoot and carrying rose petals, the devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, throng the temple every year and offer milk and “kheer” (pudding) to the sacred spring within the complex.
”In spite of prevailing tension in the Valley, we are here to meet our Muslim brothers and to participate in the Mela Kheer Bhawani and I would see the blessings of Mata Kheer Bhawani getting showered on Kashmir and normalcy returning to it forever,”  said Renu Bakshi, a 53 year old Kashmiri Pandit living at present in Middle East.
“I am coming here from the last 8 years and this year I  came specially to pray for peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the state, which is going through a bad period,” she added
Another devotee said that the festival symbolizes the inter-faith bonhomie where Pandits and Muslims come together to celebrate the festival. “I am very happy to be here and to see young boys, both Muslims and Hindus, making arrangements for the festival,” he said.
Centre’s Special Representative to J&K, Dineshwar Sharma also visited the temple and after paying an obeisance at the temple, interacted with the devotees and the district administration.


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