Thousands attend Mela Khir Bhawani in Kashmir

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Tulmulla (Kashmir), Jun 11 (UNI) Thousands of Kashmiri Pandits from different parts of the country and state today attended the annual festival of Khir Bhawani, associated with the Hindu Goddess, Ragnya Devi, here.

However, the number of devotees this year was less as compared to last year due to strike by transporters as majority of pandits could not travel from Jammu to Srinagar.

A number of political and social organisations, besides different departments had set up camps for the devotees while muslim traders were selling flowers and milk and other articles necessary for puja.

The devotees, who participated in the night-long puja, prayed for early peace in the state so that they could return to valley once again.

The prayers and hawan will continue for two days in the temple, where adequate security measures had been made for the peaceful pilgrimage.

The annual festival is held here on 'Jesht Ashtami' ( May-June) when Kashmiri pandits offer prayers to seek the blessings of the deity.

Devotees also come to the temple on every 'Shukla Paksha Ashtami' round the year and perform hawans to please the Goddess.

The historic temple of Kheer Bhiwani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh.

The deity of Goddess Ragyna is decorated in a small white marble temple. Legend goes that Lord Rama worshipped Mother Ragyna during his exile and asked Hanumanji to shift the seat of the deity when his exile period was over. Lord Hanumano brought the deity to Shadipora which was later shifted to the present site as per the wish of Mother Ragnya, conveyed in dream to one Pandit Rugnath Gadroo, it is believed.

A Kashmiri pandit leader Sanjay Saraf told UNI that the number of devotees was less this time because of transport strike.

About 30 per cent devotees could not come because of lack of transport facilities, he said and alleged government had failed to make proper transport arrangement.

The ruling Congress and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and opposition National Conference had set up stalls for the devotees.

Similar stalls were set up by different government departments for the pilgrims.

UNI BAS RSA NS1520

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