The Covid-19 pandemic Saturday cast a shadow on the much awaited re-union of Kashmiri Pandits and the Muslims at Mela Kheerbhawani in Tulmula area of Central’s Kashmir’s Ganderbal district as doors of Temple were shut and religious gatherings disallowed.
The development left hundreds of KPs and Muslims of Ganderbal emotionally heart as they wait throughout the year to celebrate the Mela to revive the age old communal bond and harmony between KP’s and Muslims.
Every year, Shanti Devi would reach the temple early in the morning on the eve of Mela Kheerbhawani as she would sit among dozens of Kashmiri Pandit women to sing traditional songs and religious hymns to mark the occasion. But today, closure of main entry gate left not just Shanti Devi but hundreds of other devotees disheartened and emotionally hurt.
The Kheerbhawani mela—one of important festivals of Kashmiri Pandits, is celebrated on Zyestha Ashtami, which fell today, (May 30) this year. Every year thousands of Kashmiri Pandits visit the temple to participle in religious rituals and to pay obeisance.
Kashmiri Pandits, settled outside J&K would not miss the occasion, and would throng in large numbers on this eve to participate in the hawans etc.
The festival had been always a glaring example of Kashmir’s composite culture and communal harmony as muslim would facilitate pandit brethren by provide refreshments and by setting up stalls to sell lamps (diyas) milk, coconut, followers and everything used in hawans and Pooja.
“There are no stalls today here. The spiritual aura is missing. Where are our muslim brothers and sisters, who would offer us water and refreshments on this day,” Omkar Nath, after paying obeisance at the main entry of Temple, told news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO)
Ghulam Ahmed, a local resident of Tulmula said that there were clear directions from the administration that no stall should be set up in view of the Covid and that there was a prior information that no large gathering will be allowed at the temple this year. “Setting up a stall had been just an excuse as I would meet my childhood friend Ravji on this day.
My heart is crying and I want to cry loudly as the pandemic didn’t allow my friend to pay obeisance at the temple this year,” he said amid sobs. “I greeted him over phone and both of us broke down. Covid played spoilsport in our meeting. Hope this disease gets over soon.”
Talking to KNO, Chuni Lal Bhat, who heads Hindu Welfare Society, who would lead the hawan at the temple every year, said that it was really unfortunate that Kheerbhawani mela wasn’t celebrated this year. “The reason was genuine but we feel deeply hurt and saddened over the development.
Our hearts would purify at the temple as would meet our relations after a long gap and also the aura where muslims would prepare refreshments and facilitate our religious rituals is smoothing that was quite amazing,” he said, adding that “entire KP community is in shock over cancellation of religious rituals at the temple this year due to covid.”
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ganderbal Muhammad Khalil Poswal said that J&K Dharmath trust had conveyed them that there would be large gathering.
“We ensured that there is no gathering this time. Main thing was Pooja which was held with the attendance of few people. For the general public and devotees it was arranged through social media platform,” he said and greeted KP community across the globe on the occasion—(KNO)