The annual ‘Mela Kheer Bhawani’, considered one of the most important festival of Kashmiri pandits, associated with Hindu Goddess Ragnya Devi, was on Friday celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety at Tulmulla area of central Kashmir district of Ganderbal with hundreds of Pandith devotees participating in the day long prayers.
The annual festival is held on Jesht Ashtami (May-June) when Kashmiri pandits visit the place in large number to offer prayers to seek the blessings of the deity.
Amid the hymns and bells, men and women, young and old carrying rose petals and milk paid obeisance at the temple nestled in the shade of mammoth Chinar trees.
The devotees prayed for peace and return of Kashmiri Pandits to the Valley. “It is so beautiful and people here are friendly, very hospitable and simple. I have made my mind to return. We prayed for peace and our return,” said Koul, 65, a migrant who had came from Jammu to celebrate the festival.
Besides seeking blessings, Kashmiri Pandits offered milk and flower petals to Ragnya Devi during the mela.
nterestingly, local Muslim populace had made arrangements to provide all necessary articles for the puja.
A number of private parties had also set up ‘langars’ for the devotees while local Muslims were seen welcoming their pandit brethren.
“We have made available all essentials, including milk, flowers and other things necessary for Puja,” the locals, who have put up stall outside the temple, said.
“I was glad to see young Muslim boys making arrangements for the festival,” a Kashmiri Pandith said.
“It was heartening to see Muslims, who are observing fast, serving eatables and other materials for puja to us,” he added .
Meanwhile, the district administration Ganderbal had made all arrangements for the devotees, including accommodation, water, electricity, medical assistance besides stocked ration there.
Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal was personally supervising the arrangements for the annual mela.
Ganderbal police had made elaborated security arrangements including parking arrangements to ensure peaceful passage of the mela.