Muslims help Pandits to perform puja in Kashmir
Srinagar: A rare scene of Kashmiryat (composite culture and pluralistic ethos) was on display on Monday when Kashmiri Muslims reached out to migrant Pandit brethren to revive the age-old bond and ensure smooth and hassle-free puja during the annual mela of Kheer Bhawani at Tulmulla in Ganderbal district.
Nearly 35,000 Pandits arrived here from Jammu and other parts of the country to participate in the religious ceremony of Zestha Ashtami at the temple. Hundreds of local Muslims had lined up outside the temple to welcome their Pandit brethren to revive the age-old bonding.
Muslims had set up stalls selling puja material to Pandits. From diyas (earthen lamp), to flowers to milk, Muslims had kept everything available for the Pandits to ensure that the Pandits could perform puja without any hassles.
“This is the real CBM (confidence building measure) between the two communities. People meeting each other and displaying the composite culture,” said Vinod Pandit, the chairman All Parties Migrants Coordination Committee.
Even some migrant Pandits were staying with Muslims in their houses so that they do not face any inconvenience in Kashmir. “Some Pandits were staying in the houses of the majority community,” said Sarmad Hafiz, district development commissioner, Ganderbal.
Muslim youth in particular were in full form to help their Pandit brothers.
“There were young volunteers from colleges who were helping the Pandits. Some volunteers’ had set up stalls to provide water and juice to the pilgrims,” said Sarmad.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who visited the temple, however, had to face the protests from some migrant Pandits who raised slogans against the pesky power cuts in the migrant colonies in Jammu.
“Had an excellent visit to Kheer Bhavani this morning, a small rowdy fringe element notwithstanding. Met and interacted with a large number of pilgrims visiting Kheer Bhavani. Was fortunate to make an offering as well,” Omar tweeted.
Minority Cell of the ruling National Conference, however, blamed the vested interests for ‘unruly behaviour to vitiate the serene atmosphere on the auspicious occasion’.
“By provoking a handful of devotees when the chief minister Omar Abdullah visited the revered shrine to meet and felicitate the devotees on the annual festival, the elements behind mischief have, the vested interests have not done any good to the community,” said Anil Dhar, the working president of the cell.