Srinagar, June 2: Despite dismally low attendance, the popular Khir Bhawani festival in Jammu and Kashmir witnessed the usual communal amity as local Muslims welcomed the Kashmiri Pandit devotees with milk when they reached the Tullamulla shrine.
Not more than 300 devotees on Friday visited north Kashmir’s Tullamulla town to celebrate the Khir Bhawani Mela, the holiest religious festival of the Kashmiri Pandits.
The Tullamulla temple and the shrine are dedicated to the Hindu goddess Mata Ragnya, who legend says flew from Sri Lanka during Ravana’s reign to Kashmir and established her seat beside a spring in the Tullamulla village.
Kashmiri Pandits believe that the colour of the spring inside the shrine annually predicts Kashmir’s future.
Local Muslims have been traditionally welcoming their Pandit brothers with milk during the festival at Tullamulla village, 29 km from here in Ganderbal district.
This year, too, despite the record low number of devotees, local Muslims served milk to the devotees, an encouraging evidence of the fact that whatever be the security and political situation in the state, the basic fabric of Hindu-Muslim amity remains intact.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited the shrine on Friday to interact with the devotees and oversee the arrangements made for them.
Authorities believe that malicious propaganda spread by miscreants through social networking sites was responsible for the minimal number of migrant Pandits attending the festival this year.
Even after the majority of local Pandits migrated out of the valley in early 1990s after violence broke out here, they have been coming in large numbers from different parts of the country to attend the festival and pray at Mata Ragnya’s shrine.