Cameraperson: Syed Shahriyar
Video Editor: Rahul Sanpui
It’s that time of the year again when Kashmiri Pandit devotees, from Jammu and other places, make their way to the temple of Rangya Devi in Gandarbal district of Kashmir.
The temple built over a sacred spring is about 25 kilometres from Srinagar. At the centre of the spring lies the temple, dedicated to Goddess Rangya Devi. It is also called Kheer Bhawani temple because devotees pay obeisance to the deity by offering milk and kheer (pudding) to the sacred spring.
Despite the tense situation, this year too, hundreds of devotees arrived to take part in the annual fair.
Sarika lived in the old city of Rainawari in Srinagar before her family migrated to Jammu. She, along with her family, were among hundreds of devotees who were attending this year’s festival.
Our Muslim brothers have been very hospitable. A man dropped my family and me to the temple and he didn’t take money from us.Sarika, Devotee
Local Muslims Welcome Devotees
The mela or fair has become a symbol of communal harmony as local Muslims make all the arrangements to welcome the devotees. They set up stalls to facilitate their stay and also keep items for rituals.
Falaq is helping her father at his stall inside the temple compound. Along with her father she too sold prayer items to the devotees.
Azee Mass owns a fruit stall. She says she grew up selling fruits to the pilgrims.
We lived together. Ate together. Before militancy struck Kashmir and Pandit families left the valley.Azee Mass, Fruit Seller
Years later, she is in touch with her Pandit neighbours. In fact, she makes trips to Jammu to visit them.