Vox Populi: Shri Amarnath Yatra and Kashmir!
Every year, thousands of Hindu devotees come to pay their obeisance at the holy Amarnath cave nestled in the foothills of Himalayas. Traditionally Muslims of Kashmir facilitate the devotees visiting the holy cave by offering their services and assistance to devotees who reach here from all the corners of globe. The pilgrims embark on this holy journey from Pahalgam and Sonamarg resting overnight along the way and yearn to perform ‘Darshan’, the act of viewing and paying obeisance before the lingum, which is also revered as the phallic symbol of the deity.
The decades-old pilgrimage continues to showcase communal harmony and brotherhood on ground apart from the economic prospects it holds of local populations that are engaged in various services to the pilgrims.
Kashmir Images Abid Hussain spoke to many people regarding how the pilgrimage showcases the composite culture of this which has remained undeterred even in the worst case scenarios. Excerpts:
Amaranth Yatra provides an opportunity to break stereotypes and stigmas created by national media and xenophobic people about Kashmir. The yatris come in touch with locals here and appreciate the hospitability and warmth with which they are received, helped, assisted and treated. Apart from the economic benefits, however, meagre they may be, it is a very good opportunity for projecting the real image of Kashmir and its cultural richness.
Mukhtar Dar, Journalist
Amarnath yatra is a sacred course of pilgrimage carried out by Hindus. It is our moral, rational and religious obligation to not hurt religious sentiments of others. So, treating yatris with tolerance and good hospitality is actually performing our religious obligation, which ultimately makes a way for our character building. Yatris will forget their bad perceptions about Kashmir and they would remember what we did and how we made them feel. Later, they can also become the messengers of Kashmir throughout the world.
Muneer Hussain, Student
Yatris are our guests, our hospitality towards them makes us known throughout the world and our beliefs in composite cultures and religious harmony makes our land heaven. Every year when pilgrims come here, they too realize how they are being treated cordially by every person and this kind of hospitality also gives the message of peace to everyone.
Kashmir stands as a shining example of communal harmony. This yatra is helping us in building and retrieving the communal harmony that was hurt in the commotion of 1990’s. People in Kashmir firmly believe in accommodation, tolerance, hospitality and peace which obligate them to look after their guests very well. The yatra is a symbol of harmony, it should not be politicised and should remain the centre of spirituality. The assistance and hospitality to Hindu pilgrims paint a better picture of this land contradicting the cliché understanding of Indian masses who are fed wrong information by the popular media.
Zaira Hassan, History Student
Kashmir has a long history of hospitality and its people are carrying this legacyby welcoming their guests, especially yatris. From late 1980s, Kashmir is engulfed in miseries, mourning’s and tragedies but it doesn’t hamper their enthusiastic nature of hospitality and communal tolerance. These qualities are making Kashmir unique and a role model for communal brotherhood and tolerance in the world.
Javed Abbas Rizvi, Journalist
Kashmir has always been known for hospitality and positivity. Amarnath pilgrimage, which is a symbol of mutual coexistence, has seen majority of yatris visiting the Valley. Locals are always there to help guide and assist in conducting the smooth yatra every year. This exhibits people’s accommodative culture to other faiths.
Nazir Khan, Employee