Emotional scenes witnessed as KPs reunite with Muslims brethrens

Srinagar, Jun 20: Emotional scenes were witnessed on Wednesday during Mela Kheer Bhawani here as it’s that time of the year when Kashmiri Pandits reunite with their Muslim brethrens, who wait eagerly for the whole year to meet their long lost friends.
Every year in June, Tullamulla in central Kashmir district of Ganderbal is abuzz with Kashmiri Pandit families celebrating Mela Kheer Bhawani, their most important festival, associated with the Hindu Goddess, Ragnya Devi.
Emotional scenes were witnessed when a local Muslim — Ghulam Rasool Dar — greeted his Pandit friend — R K Raina, who was visiting the valley after a gap of about 25 years. “I’m visiting the valley after a gap of about 25 years. The last time I visited Kashmir was in 1993, but since then I have been yearning to return to my roots and meet my friends,” said an emotional Raina, who lives with his family in Bangalore.
“Dar and I used to study in the same school, used to play the same games and lived very near to each other in the apple township of Sopore. We lost touch for about 10 years, but by the grace of God were against united with the help of some other friends. Since then we have remained in touch by phone,” he said.
But, he said meeting him for the first time after 25 years has aroused many feelings, which are hard to describe in words.
Dar, who had specially come from Sopore in north Kashmir district of Baramulla to meet this childhood friend, said meeting Raina is like a dream come true. “I will not have any regret in my life if I die tomorrow. Meeting Raina is something I have desired from years and finally we are together. We have a lot of catching up to do, so after the Mela I have made arrangements for Raina’s family to stay with my family at Sopore,” Dar said.
A local resident of Tulmulla, Shafat Ahmad said they wait for the whole year for their Kashmiri Pandit brethrens to return to the temple. “I as a child used to attend almost every Mela with his father. I am still emotionally attached to the mela and the people of the area wait for this day the entire year,” Ahmad said.
He said the locals have made available their residences and their Pandit brethrens can stay in these houses free of cost. “We don’t want any monetary benefit. We just want things to go back to as they were before Kashmiri Pandits left the valley. They are an important part of us. We are incomplete without them and they are not complete without us,” he added.
The mela has become a symbol of communal harmony as local Muslims make all the arrangements to welcome the devotees. They set up stalls and provide devotees items for rituals.
Azee Mass, a local Kashmir woman, who sells fruit on a stall, said the Mela given an opportunity for friends separated to unite. “The mela don’t only provide an opportunity for Muslims and Pandits to meet, but also acts as a bridge between Pandit families, who live in different parts of the country,” she said.
She said she goes to Jammu to meet her Pandit friends and the latter visits Kashmir to meet her.