How jubilant Kashmiri Pandits and the local Muslims of Tulamulla Ganderbal (Jammu & Kashmir) were found during Mela Kheer Bhawani Celebrations on 9th June 2011. Indeed it was heartening to see that how Muslims were witnessed rejoicing over the celebration of Mela Kheer Bhawani by Kashmiri Pandits. There were a huge number of members from migrant Kashmir Pandit Community who had arrived at Kheer Bhawani to celebrate their annual holy event. The scene was worth watching to witness as to how the Muslim welcomed their migrant Pandit brotheren with their open hearts and minds. Some of the members belonging to both the communities were seen embracing with one another and weeping for having met after long spell of period and it was also worth to note that how Muslims were making repeated appeals for their immediate return to valley. The local Muslims were seen enthusiastically making necessary arrangements possible on this eve. They were insisting Pandits to give them opportunity to serve them as they feel satisfactory pleasure to serve their Pandit brotheren. Infact they were recalling their olden days when there was indeed complete union of thoughts of both the communities. During their discourses and interactions they were seen recalling their common Kashmiri cultural heritage and celebration of common religious events. One of the Kashmiri Pandit members from the Kheer Bhawani premises was noticed telephoning to one of his relations at Delhi about the cheerful and warm welcome extended by Muslims on their arrival at the Shrine. The local Muslims had set up beautifully decorated stalls and were found selling therein various items required for the puja to Goddess Kheer Bhawani. They had kept earthen lamps, flowers, milk, white sugar lumps (Kand), and other necessary items adequately available for the devotees.
Some of the Muslim neighbors had fixed appointment to meet their erstwhile Kashmiri Pandit neighbors on the day of the event at Tullamulla, Kheer Bhawani. One of the neighbor devotees who had already arrived at Kheer Bhawani was noticed to be ascertaining the reasons of him being Late by his erstwhile Muslim neighborer who had already made up his programme to have a meeting with the neighborer devotee at the shrine. Many Muslims were witnessed expressing their feeling that Pandits happen to be an integral part of Kashmir and Kashmiriyat. Even one was getting surprised to see as to how Muslims were wishfully rendering their beautiful services to the devotees in the same way as they would do two decades ago. During celebrations of the event one more interesting scene was witnessed that a Muslim and a Kashmiri Pandit lady was dancing together while offering prayers to the deity in the premises of the Shrine during local musical programme (Mundali) organized by Kashmiri Pandit womenfolk.
It seems that this year’s particular event of Mela Kheer Bhawani would definitely pave a way to restore contacts with Kashmiri Muslim brotheren which could lead to develop and promote harmony between the two communities outside the Shrine premises the local Muslim volunteers were observed offering various kinds of juices to the devotees. They were found highly jubilant in rendering their services to the devotees. Indeed it was felt that Muslims of Kashmir are incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits. Similarly, Pandits have also common feelings about Kashmiri Muslims. Both the communities were found extraordinary cheerful in seeing the lovable & affectionate gestures of one another. Another heartening reality about this event was that how local Muslim ladies were found cherishing their hope for the early and permanent restoration of contacts of migrant Kashmiri Pandits with Muslims. One of the Muslim boys aged about 20/21 years who was not born at the time when Kashmiri Hindus left the valley while accompanying his father at the Shrine was found making queries to his father about the origin and whereabouts of Kashmiri Pandits. His father however, made him realize the importance of the Hindu community of the valley apart from the traditional communal amity which would exist about two decades back between the two communities.
It seems that the sense of security among the members of migrant Pandit community could be restored only by the closest association of Muslims with their Kashmiri Hindu brotheren rather than through the concerted efforts which also are being made by the Administration. However, State administration has also initiated various result oriented steps to bring back migrant community members to the valley. Recently as many as more than 3000 persons belonging to migrant Kashmiri Pandit families were provided chance of employment in various State Govt. departments and in order to see them back in the valley, they were posted at different places in the Kashmir valley to render their services. All such employees are found to be having achieved job satisfaction by remaining in the valley. Their posting in the valley would also contribute positively in restoring situation which could create an environment for bringing rest of the migrant Pandits back to valley. This has infact provided conducive atmosphere to hold free interactions between the both the communities which could certainly become an effective tool to make the Union of thoughts & feelings once again.
The days are not far away when we would see that the migrant families would come back to their places in the valley and again would share their valuable thoughts with their Muslim brotheren. Despite eruption of militancy in Kashmir, the traditional communal harmony in the Kashmir valley could not get affected and the known reasons for that are the teachings of communal & mutual brotherhood preached by the Rishies, Sants & other religious heads of both the communities continue to loom largely over our brain. Infact the member of both the communities still do have full faith over the holy teachings of Sants and Rishies. These Rishies & Sants of the valley have never guided anyone upon any sectarian and communal differences. They have always opposed tooth and nail on any communal and sectarian differences. Their perspective clearly conveys a message of love and affection and this the reason as to why it is observed that Kashmiri Pandits belonging to Kashmir do have great belief and allegiance towards the Muslim shrines as a result of which Pandits of the valley do visit various Muslim shrines like Mukhdoom Sahib, Dastgeer Sahib, Nund Resh-Chari-e-Sharief, Baba Reshi and also other shrines to pay their obeisance. It is a very-very old tradition that Pandits of the valley do greet their Muslims in the valley on the eve of idd-ul-fitter & idd-ul-Zuha. Similarly, the Muslim also does not forget to reciprocate their feelings to Pandits on the eve of Maha Shivratri. We hope that this would continue for all the time to come in future also.