Manzgam (Kulgam), June 2 (PTI) Braving fear triggered by the increasing activities of militants, violence and encounter in the South Kashmir, the Kashmiri Pandit community made a beeline to the ancient shrine of Goddess Rajnya Bhagwati, one of the three vaishnite goddesses, whose birthday “Zeasht Ashtami” was celebrated in the Valley today.
The number of devotees visiting the Kheer Bhawani shrine at Tulmul (Ganderbal district), Manzgam (Kulgam district), Tikker (Kupwara) and Tripursundri shrine at Devsar (Kulgam) this year has seen a dip due to the unrest in the Valley.
The annual ‘Zeshta Ashtami’ festival celebrated amid tolling of bells and wafts of aroma sticks.
Devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, thronged the shrine situated in south Kashmir, which is currently hot bed of militancy, encounters, violence and unrest in the Valley.
Over 25 militants have been killed and a dozen of civilian and securitymen have alos lost their lives during encounters this year amid violent protests triggering fear among the displaced Kashmiri Pandits.
The birth anniversaries of three Vaishnite goddesses- Mata Kheer Bhawani in Tulmul (Ganderbal district), Goddess Tripur Sundari in Devsar (Kulgam district) and Goddess Ragnya Bhagwati in Manzgam (Kulgam district) is being celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits in the valley with hawans, community kitchens and mass prayers.
Over 300 KP devotees visited the spring shrine of Manzgam located at world famous Aharbal water falls. Similarly, Over 200 visited the shrine of Tripursundri at devsar in Kulgam.
“We reached at Mazgam shrine safely on May 30. We have no problem enroute although there was a fear factor due to situation in South Kashmir”, President, Manzgam Prabandik Committee, Kuldeep Raina said.
Raina, who led his team to organise a Maha Yagya, community kitchen and prayers at the shrine, said, “KPs freely and fearlessly came here and paid obeisance at the shrine. It was usual as was in the past”.
Vinay Kaul, another devotee said that much hype was given to element of fear on social media but there was no such fear here.
“The fall in the number of the pilgrims visiting Kashmir shrines was due to this campaign launched through the social media,” Kaul said.
In Devsar, Sanjay Kaul said hawan, community kitchen and mass prayers were conducted by Kashmiri Pandits here.
“Although there was less number of the devotees compared to last year, but Yagnya was performed in best way”, he said.
Manzgam, which was once a safe sanctuary and launching pad of foreign mercenaries, is now abuzz with the flow of pilgrims mostly Kashmiri Pandits.
The Manzgam temple, situated in the southern most part of Kashmir, was rebuilt after it was damaged when militants exploded a bomb and killed a priest by slitting his throat in 1990.
In Tikker, over 400 pilgrims took part in the Yagya of Mata and prayed for peace and normalcy in Kashmir.