SRINAGAR – Scenes of Hindu-Muslim bonhomie were witnessed in Tulmulla in city outskirts where many local Muslims came out to greet hundreds of migrant Kashmiri Pandits who arrived at Mata Kheer Bhawani temple to attend an annual festival.
Kashmiri Pandits started arriving here on Wednesday in buses from Delhi and Jammu. Some of them used their private vehicles to attend the Mela (fair) and pray for peace and prosperity at the shrine.
The holy Kashmiri Pandit shrine in Kashmir Valley, Kheer Bhawani temple is dedicated to Hindu deity Mata Ragnya, who according to Hindu beliefs came to Kashmir from Sri Lanka during the rule of Ravana.
It is said that displeased with the licentious and vicious life of Ravana, the deity asked Lord Hanuman to shift her image to Tulmulla village in Kashmir.
The temple built over a spring is about 25 kilometres from Srinagar. At the centre of the spring lies the temple, dedicated to Rangya Devi. It is also called Kheer Bhawani temple because devotees pay obeisance to the deity by offering milk and kheer (pudding) to the sacred spring.
Despite the tense situation, this year too, hundreds of devotees arrived to take part in the annual fair. and Muslim residents were out there to greet Pandit visitors.
Muslims had made all the arrangements to welcome the devotees. They set up stalls to facilitate their stay and also keep items for rituals.
Jammu and Kashmir government had announced free transport service for the devotees from Delhi and Jammu to the temple and back to attract more Kashmiri Pandits to the mela.
Hurriyat leadership also called Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), which speaheads the ongoing movement against Indian rule, deferred its protest strike against recent civilian killings by a day in view of Mela Kheer Bhawani.
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