Srinagar: The most important festival of the Kashmiri pandits — ‘Herath’ (Maha Shivratri) – will be celebrated throughout the valley by members of the pandit community on Thursday.
The members of the community are visiting temples, particularly Shankaracharya on the hill top of Takhat-e-Suliman, since early this morning to pay obeisance.
After joining night-long puja in their respective houses, people are greeting each other on the occasion of ‘Salaam’, a Persian word for greeting. Muslims and members of other communities are greeting their Kashmiri pandit brethren on the occasion.
Authorities have set up special fish sale counters for two days from Tuesday at different places in the valley for the Kashmiri pandits, who didn’t migrated along with other community members in 90s or returned here.
The Shivratri festival extends to about three weeks in Kashmiri Pandits’ households and each day or a group of days has a special name and religious function which include social performances also.
Some of the names are Akodah, Hurya Aatham, Dyara Daham, Vagarye Bah, Heracnia Truvah, Donya Mavas and Tila Aatham. On each day they have different functions.
The Mahashivratri festival, observed as ‘Hairath’ by Kashmiri Pandits on the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Uma, begins on the first day of Phalgun Krishna Paksha and ends on the Amavasi day in Phalgun. In between, there are numerous auspicious days like Hur Ashtami.
Walnuts, whose shape represents the universe, play an important part in ‘Hairath’ rituals. Walnuts are filled in earthen pots and then filled with water. The water is changed every day of the festivals. A big earthen pot, two medium sized earthern pot, two small earthen pot, clay modelled to the shape of elephant trunk and seven bowls are used in the Hairath ritual and they are known as ‘watuk’.