In Photos: Lighting the Torch of Faith in Kashmir’s Zool Festival

The festival, which is held in April, marks the beginning of agricultural activities of the farmers in the state.

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The age old tradition of burning <i>Mashals</i> (torches), Zool, as it is called in the local language, was carried on Tuesday night. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

People in Kashmir organised the Zool Festival and burned Mashals (also known as Zool in local language) at the Aishmuqam Dargah Shrine of Sufi saint Baba Zaina-ud-din Wali in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.



(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The festival, which is held in April, marks the beginning of agricultural activities of the farmers in the district. It is a regular affair that portrays the state's rich culture and heritage. Devotees come from far off places to celebrate the festival in the shrine.



(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)


(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

Delicious food stalls and delicacies adorn the streets outside the shrine.



(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)


(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The festival is held after the evening prayers, and a torchlight procession is the main highlight of festival. The procession involves holding torch lights, locally called leshi in a peculiar way, which depicts the public seeking blessings of the saint.

Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)


(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

People from all religions are believed to come and pay homage to the saint.

Locals claim that the festival continues to be celebrated from pre-Islamic times and dates back to about 2,000 years.



(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)


(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)


(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The shrine is situated on a hill lock, which is about 86 km away from Srinagar, en route to Pahalgam.



(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

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