Khir Bhawani festival reunites Kashmiri Pandits, Muslims

11 June 2008
The Hindu

Tulmul (GANDERBAL): It was yet another moment of joy for Shamboo Nath Saproo to reunite with his Muslim neighbours on the occasion of Mela Khir Bhawani as thousands of Kashmiri Pandits joined the festival on Wednesday. Saproo, who hails from Manigam village near here, has been visiting Kashmir regularly for the past few years since his migration to Jammu in early 1990. Though thousands of Pandits used to visit the place, this year the number was not that high. But the ongoing four day-long strike by transporters is seen as one of the reasons for the low attendance, though authorities had pressed into service over 60 buses of the State-owned Road Transport Corporation. However, for Saproo it was not difficult to reach Tulmul as one of his old neighbours reached out to him on a two-wheeler on Srinagar and brought him here. “I find solace in coming to my homeland,” says Saproo, who is one of the few Pandits who have not sold their house or property “But it is in bad condition.” He says that he never felt any difference though the youngsters do not know him. “My neighbours Abdur Rehman Bhat and Abdur Rasheed are here with me and they insist that I go with them but another friend Mohammad Yusuf has already taken my belongings and am going to stay with him for the night,” he said adding that “Hindu-Muslim bond in Kashmir is unparalleled and still survives in spite of the turbulent situation.” Saproo, who heads Milchar Front (a social organisation in Jammu) says that this unity was the best tribute to Kashmiri ethos and it was time for all political forces to unite and put the State back on the rails of peace, development and prosperity. He said this year the water which has come out of a mysterious spring here is white which denotes prosperity and development. There were also other Muslims who had come to see their Pandit neighbours and friends. One of them was Abdul Gani from Ganderbal who had come with milk to offer his erstwhile neighbours. The Pandit devotees prayed for return of peace to Kashmir. Khir Bhavani festival is an annual affair to celebrate the arrival of Mata Ragyana to the valley. Mata Ragyana was the deity worshipped by King Ravan in Sri Lanka. Though all arrangements had been made by authorities, the transport strike had badly hit the festival. Deputy Commissioner of Ganderbal Abdul Majid Khanday said that adequate arrangements had been made and there was no complaint as such. He admitted that the transporters strike had caused inconvenience but the government had made alternative arrangements.