Press Trust of india

Hundreds of Pandits leave Jammu for Kheer Bhawani in Kashmir

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Jammu, June 09: Amid tight security arrangements, hundreds of displaced Kashmiri Pandit devotees left Jammu for Kashmir to take part in the annual Mata Kheer Bhawani mela, which is one of the biggest religious function of the community, being celebrated on Monday.

Housing the shrine of Ragnya Devi, a revered goddess of Kashmiri Pandits, the Kheer Bhawani temple in Tulmulla village in north Kashmir's Ganderbal district is the holiest religious destination for the KPs.

Walking barefoot, the devotees carry rose petals and offer tribute to the goddess as men take a dip in the stream close to the shrine.

Over 60,000 to 70,000 displaced Pandits from various parts of India and abroad are expected to visit five famous temples in the Kashmir Valley during Kheer Bhawani fair starting on Zeasht Astami, which falls on June 10 this year.

More than 100 buses carrying pilgrims to Kheer Bhawani (Ksheer Bhawani) was flagged off by Jammu Divisional Commissioner Sajeev Verma and Relief Commissioner T K Bhat at Nagrota in the outskirts of Jammu city, officials said.

"We have flagged off the buses carrying Kashmir migrant devotees to Mata Kheer Bhawani temple in Kashmir. Apart other vehicles have been sent to other four shrines in north, central and south Kashmir for paying obeisance at the shrines tomorrow," Relief Commissioner Bhat told reporters here.

Bhat, who personally visited all the five shrines, said there will be huge increase in the KP pilgrims visiting these shrines as compared to past few years.

"We have finalised all arrangements in connections with the yatra. I along with the respective heads of various districts and officers visited all the five temples and put in place all the required arrangements," he said.

Bhat visited all the five temples of goddess Ragnya and Mata Tripursundri in Kashmir Valley to finalise the security, boarding and lodging, and transportation facilities enroute and at the shrines.

Zeasht Ashtami is celebrated by Kashmiri Pandits across the country and outside and they try to visit Mela Kheer Bawani in the Valley on the occasion.

Apart from the security, other arrangements made by the administration include availability of potable water, sanitation, fire and emergency services, sleeping bags, blankets, LPG cylinders, kerosene oil, rice and wheat flour.

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