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GANDERBAL: Thousands of devotees Wednesday thronged the famous temple of Ragnya Devi in Tulmul Ganderbal on the occasion of annual Kheer Bhawani mela. Situated amidst Chinar trees in Ganderbal district, the revered temple is thronged by devotees, mostly Kashmiri Pandits, every year for paying obeisance. Most of the devotees had come from Jammu and other parts. Muslims, in a sign of brotherhood, had erected many stalls distributing refreshments and soft drinks among the pilgrims. The devotees believe the colour of the spring water flowing under the temple hints at the situation in Kashmir.

Amid the thick smoke of incense sticks and diyas (earthen lamps) flowing with the breeze, a group of Kashmiri Pandit women were seen busy singing traditional religious hymns to mark the annual festival.  A large number of Kashmiri Pandits had arrived at Khir Bhawani from Delhi while the State Government as a goodwill gesture had arranged transport and other facilities for them.

“Getting displaced from homeland was as if mountains had fallen on us. We were busy in recovering from the shock and finding a place to live in Jammu, our children grew up in a different atmosphere where they even forgot their language,” said a Kashmiri Pandit who lives in New Delhi.