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Kashmiri Pandits return home for Khir Bhawani mela

Last updated on: May 29, 2012 21:09 IST

Kashmiri Pandits return home for Khir Bhawani mela

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar

Thousands of Pandits arrived in Kashmir Valley on Tuesday to keep their date with their holy annual festival at Khir Bhawani temple at Tullamulla, 26 kilometre from Srinagar in north Kashmir Ganderbal district.

The men, women and children took both air and land routes to reach Tullamulla where arrangements have been made for their lodging and boarding.

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Image: Pilgrims at the Khir Bhawani temple at Tullamulla
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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Kashmiri Pandits return home for Khir Bhawani mela

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The Pandits started arriving at the shrine since Monday evening. The first to reach the shrine were the Pandits living in various parts of the Valley and were joined by their fraternity in the evening.

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Image: Pilgrims at the Khir Bhawani temple at Tullamulla
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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Kashmiri Pandits return home for Khir Bhawani mela

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There was a lot of emotion on display as Pandits met their relatives at the shrine. The Pandits staying in Valley had made arrangements for their relatives who came from Jammu and other places.

"My brother and family members came here a day earlier and stayed with us. We came to Tullamulla together. We are enjoying the weather in Kashmir Valley and the company," said Dileep Bhat.

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Image: Pilgrims sing devotional songs at the Khir Bhawani Temple
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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The festival is an annual affair and is observed as a state holiday. The festival will continue until late on Tuesday night. In the past, it would continue for several days in the pre-migration period.

Local Muslims were seen helping their Pandit brethren in arranging various essentials required for the puja which included milk and flowers.

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Image: Pilgrims at the Khir Bhawani Temple
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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Kashmiri Pandits return home for Khir Bhawani mela

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"This is our first visit to Kashmir Valley after our migration to New Delhi. I am thrilled to be back at this holy place along with my family. My late father would bring us here on the festival every year. I prayed for the return of peace in Kashmir," said Ashok Kaul, a pilgrim.

The attendance at the festival has been increasing with each year and this year too thousands are at the shrine to pay obeisance to the revered deity.

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Image: Families preparing for the puja at the temple
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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The general manager of the trust that oversees the arrangements for the festival, Roshan Lal Bhan said over 50,000 Pandits joined the festival from various parts of the country.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who visited the shrine has underlined 'the sense of security and economic safeguards basic elements to help return of Kashmiri Pandits to their native land'.

He said that the government is focussing on both these crucial aspects adding that the prevalent peace and improved security situation is proving a catalyst in this process.


Image: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at the Khir Bhawani mela
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff

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