Kheer Bhawani Festival
Located 30km north of capital Srinagar, the Kheer Bhawani shrine at Tulmula attracts thousands of people from all over the country.
The temple is dedicated to the Goddess Rajnya Devi, popularly known as Kheer Bhawani. The name ‘Kheer Bhawani’ is derived from the fact that thousands of devotees offer milk and “Kheer” or pudding to the sacred spring, as they beliee the pudding turns black to warn of impending disaster.
Be it Hindus or Muslims, devotees from all across India throng the temple during the Kheer Bhawani festival.
“Devotees from all walks, places and faiths come here to make offerings and we get to meet everyone. I appeal to everyone, our Kashmiri Pandit brothers too, without whom we are incomplete that if peace is to be restored in Kashmir, then everybody should come back home. The Kashmiri Pandits also, even if they revolt against us. They have all the right to do so and also to place their thoughts before everyone,” Said Shabir Shah, a Muslim devotee.
Among the thousands of devotees are many Hindu Kashmiri Pandits who migratd from the state when terrorism was at its peak in the valley. Many of them have now settled in other states. However, for many of them, the annual pilgrimage to this temple is a sort of homecoming, areturn to their roots.
It is at this temple that the age-old tradition of communal harmony comes to the forefront as the local Muslims set up stalls for the convenience of Kashmiri Pandits who visit the shrine. Around 250000 devotees, mostly migrant Hindus, participate in a ‘Maha Yagna’, a traditional offering, at the shrine.