Thousands of Hindu devotees throng Kashmir shrine

May 31st, 2009 - 4:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, May 31 (IANS) Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits from various parts of the country Sunday prayed for peace at the Mata Khir Bhawani shrine in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.
The devotees had started reaching Tullamulla village of Ganderbal district since Saturday evening. Scores of buses, taxis and private vehicles continued to bring devotees to the village Sunday for the celebration of the annual festival of the Hindu deity.

Keeping with the centuries-old tradition, the Muslim residents in Tullamulla village served milk in earthen pots to the Pandit devotees.

“I want to return to my home in the Valley, but there is still fear in our hearts and minds,” said Dolly, 40, who had come to the shrine along with her family from Udhampur district in the Jammu region, where they migrated at the outbreak of the violence here in the early 1990s.

Chamanlal, 58, who had come here with his wife and two children, also expressed his desire to return to the land of his forefathers.

“We belong to the Valley and we have all our roots and religious moorings here. I have prayed today for peace so that I can return to my home with honour and without any fear,” he said.

The 26-km-long route from Srinagar to the shrine in Tullamulla village was guarded by hundreds of security personnel. The administration had made elaborate arrangements for security, sanitation, healthcare and safe drinking water for the devotees at the shrine.

According to the belief of the local Hindus, the colour of the spring inside the shrine on the festival day foretells the future for the Valley.

“The spring had a frightening dark colour when the insurgency broke out here in 1990. The ominous colour was again witnessed during the Kargil conflict. However, the colour of the spring has gradually been changing from dark to milky. We hope good days are ahead for the people,” said a member of the shrine’s board.

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