Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Pushkar festival after 11 years near Srinagar

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Shadipora (J-K), Dec.22 (ANI): After a gap of 11 years, Kashmiri Pandits in Jammu and Kashmir's Ganderbal district are celebrating Pushkar festival with fervour and gaiety in the Shadipora area.

Kashmiri Pandits in the region have been closely associated with the festival. It is based on the belief that those who take a dip in the waters of the Sangam get their souls cleansed of all sins. The waters of the Sangam are believed to be holy and that they cure several diseases and ailmetns.

The ongoing 11-day long festival is held on the banks of the confluence of two rivers, Jhelum and Sindh. The point of confluence of rivers, or "Sangam", is 30 kilometres from Srinagar, city.

"So, we have come here to take bath and we will pray for our forefathers and all other things. For doing prayers, we have come here," said Bharat Raina , a Kashmiri Pandit.

The event is a major draw for devotees from all over India.

According to a tourism officer, Abdul Aziz Mir, around 7,000 devotees have arrived in the Valley to take part in the festival, and all necessary arrangements have been made for them.

"So, we have come here to take bath and we will pray for our forefathers and all other things. For doing prayers, we have come here," said Janardan Reddy, a devotee from Andhra Pradesh.

After performing the ritual prayers for their forefathers, devotees also pray for world peace.

"Everybody benefits from the ongoing festival. And that includes hotel owners, taxi drivers, houseboat owners and handicraft makers. Everybody profits. Devotees come and spend money here. If just one tourist spends around 10,000 rupees ($213), then you can imagine how much profit we make from the festival," said Hilal Ahmed, a Kashmiri Muslim.

During the festival, locals create temporary shelters for devotees and ensure that all basic facilities such as food, water, health-care and transport are readily available.

The festival began on Sunday (December 20) and will last till Friday (January 01). By Afzal Butt (ANI)

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