Devotees throng Khir Bhawani shrine in Kashmir


Srinagar : Thousands of Kashmiri Hindu devotees Wednesday gathered at the shrine of Mata Khir Bhawani here to observe the deity’s annual festival.

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Despite a general shutdown called by the local traders and transporters in the Valley, devout Kashmiri Pandits reached the Khir Bhawani shrine, 24 km from Srinagar.

“According to Hindu mythology, Mata Ragyana was brought to the valley by Lord Hanuman some 5,000 years back,” said G.L. Daftari, a Pandit who left the Valley 18 years back.

“The annual festival known as Jasht Shuklapaksh Ashtami is held each year in the month of June. The goddess accepts only milk offerings,” he informed.

Scores of Muslims gathered outside the Khir Bhawani shrine in Tullamulla village of north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district early Wednesday morning with milk for the devotees.

“It is a symbolic gesture of Hindu-Muslim unity of Kashmir. I have met many of my neighbours here Wednesday who had migrated in 1990. It was an emotional re-union. So far as our love and respect for each other is concerned, nothing has actually changed,” said Gulam Mohi-ud-Din, 59, a resident of Tullamulla village as he met Bansi Lal and his wife Shakuntala, who now live in Jammu city.

Security arrangements have been made and medical aid camps have been set up at a number of places along the route from Srinagar to the shrine.