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Mela Kheer Bhawani-2011
   By V. K. Nakhasi

Mela Kheer Bhawani assumes great importance in view of the reasons that large number of devotees especially members belonging to Kashmiri Pandit Community visit Kheer Bhawani Kashmir to pay their obeisance to seek the blessing of the deity. Kheer Bhawani is place adjacent to village Ganderbal, Tulmulla falling in the outskirts of Srinagar City and is about 21 Kms away from Srinagar towards North side.

It is stated that Goddess Ragnya who was in Lanka was tired of misdemeanors of Lord Ravna. Accordingly the Goddess Ragnya deemed it proper to shift herself to Kashmir (Satisar) and Hanuman Ji helped the Mata to carry her on his shoulders to a place surrounded by a spring which happens to be the basic foundation of Mata Kheer Bhawani temple. Almost all Kashmiri Pandit families visit this temple especially on the occasion of Zaisth Ashtami which generally falls in the month of June every year and on this event the Kashmir Division observes holiday.

The Jammu & Kashmir State Administration is bound to make necessary arrangements for the transportation of devotees to the Kheer Bhawani temple on this day. Large gathering is always witnessed in the Shrine on Zaisth Ashtami. The Indian visitors who happen to visit valley to enjoy scenic nature do take chance to visit Kheer Bhawani Shrine. Infact Tullamulla is a village where both the communities i.e. Hindus & Muslims would reside. The Muslim brotheren of the local area always seem much more enthusiastic to meet their Hindu Brotheren on this occasion at the Shrine. The local Muslims also set up their stalls to make sale of flowers, earthen lamps and milk to the Hindu devotees. The Shrine remains full of hustle and bustle on this day which lasts at least for 2 or 3 days.

The history reveals that the Mata Kheer Bhawani temple was built during the reign of Dogras. The Shrine is entirely surrounded by rivulets & streams and the main stream is just adjacent to the entrance gate of the temple where large number of devotees’ soon after seeking entry into the Shrine premises takes holy dip into the stream before getting readied for prayers to the Mata. Most of the Kashmiri Pandit families proceed to the temple one day earlier of the fair in order to offer prayers to the Goddess during night. Apart from offering prayers, the Kashmir Pandit devotees remain busy in preparing their vegetarian food for themselves. Apart from paying obeisance in the Shrine on the day of annual Mela, the Kashmiri Pandits often visit the shrine on Shuklapaksh Ashtami of every month. The local Muslim population residing in the vicinity of the Kheer Bhawani Kashmir (Temple) eagerly awaits their Hindu (Pandit) brotheren on this day every month.

On the annual fair of Zeith Ashtami the gathering of devotees normally goes to 60 to 70 thousands. The various departments viz Medical, Traffic Police, Social Welfare, Public Health Engineering, Municipal Corporation etc remain camped for at least two days to render their respective services to the devotees during their visit to the temple. The State Administration launches meticulous drive quite in advance to make the environment in and around the sanctum sanctorum properly hyganical. The volunteer social service activists of different non-governmental organizations always remain available at the disposal of devotees to render their services during any eventuality during the fair. The voluntary service organizations also serve food, snack, tea etc to the devotees in their lungers. The influx of yatries sometimes goes too high to accommodate them in the premises of the Shrine. However, the state Govt. has constructed some residential accommodation to accommodate the huge influx of devotees.

Following the eruption of Kashmir militancy, duty to look-after the security scenario of the Shrine stands entrusted to paramilitary forces. The Paramilitary force members also set up their lungers to serve Prashad, food etc to the devotees. Through the frequent visits being made by the visitors, the local tradesmen also receive ample opportunity to carryout their business. They earn handsome profit out of this business. Prior to the period of militancy in Kashmir, people would visit the Shrine frequently. But the militancy previously prevailed in Kashmir left its negative impact upon the influx of visitors visiting the Shrine, which adversely affected the local businessmen. But with the passage of time, the things altogether changed and at present everyone irrespective of his cast, creed & color pay his visit to the Shrine freely without any intimidatory threat or fear as the local Muslim brotheren do not leg behind in demonstrating their potential of true love and affection which prudently is not only productive but also a rewarding activity of evincing keenness in exhibiting warm welcome to the devotees. It becomes a telling and prudent example of the fragility of communal brotherhood, social harmony and cultural heritage coupled with right of individuals.

This year as usual Mela Kheer Bhawani is taking place on 9th June 2011. The people who intend to visit the Kheer Bhawani shrine on the eve of happy Mela of Kheer Bhawani Shrine keenly await the day. The Kashmiri Pandits who have migrated to Jammu and elsewhere in the country make advance reservations and bookings with various transports / tour operators for visiting the temple and other worth seeing places of Kashmir Division.




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