Khir Bhawani Mela, the annual festival of Khir Bhawani temple in Tulamulla, is the largest Hindu celebration in Kashmir. It attracts thousands of Kashmiri Hindus across the country. In 2016, Khir Bhawani Mela date is June 12. For this festival thousands of devotees throng to the temple of Ragnya Devi.
Scores of Kashmiri Hindus from different parts of the country have started arriving at the Khir Bhawani temple in north Kashmir’s Ganderbal district for an annual festival, which, this year, will be celebrated on Saturday. Khir Bhawani temple in Tullamulla village, about 25 km from here, is dedicated to Ragnya Devi, one of the many incarnations of Goddess Durga.
Legend has it that Lord Rama worshipped Ragnya during his entire 14-year exile. When this ended, Lord Rama asked Hanuman to relocate the shrine of the goddess. Hanuman relocated it to Shadipora in Kashmir. But the deity appeared in a local priest’s dream asking him to relocate the shrine at its present location.
Devotees of all ages throng the shrine each year and engage in prayers and meditation to seek the blessings of the deity. As per centuries’ old traditions, Muslims line up outside the temple every festival day with ‘kheer’ (a sweet dish made of milk) in earthen pots for their Hindu brethren.
‘This is the true face of Kashmir and despite the worst upheavals of time, we have lived up to our glorious tradition of co-existence,’ said Muhammad Maqbool Bhat, 71, a resident of Tullamulla village.
The authorities have made elaborate security, healthcare and transport arrangements for this year’s pilgrims, whose numbers are expected to beat all previous records.