Other States

Muslims set up stalls as Pandits celebrate ‘Herath’ in Valley

“The festival used to be equally celebrated by the majority community in Kashmir”

Muslims set up special stalls of fish as a miniscule population of Kashmiri Pandits, who stayed in the Valley despite the raging militancy in the 1990s, on Thursday celebrated the community’s most important festival Sivaratri, locally called ‘Herath’ — the first such festival since J&K was reduced to a Union Territory (UT) last year.

Several temples, including the traditional temples located in the old city like the Shri Ganesh temple, the Purshyar Mandir, the Durgeshwari temple etc. saw local Pandits performing important rituals. The major congregation was held at the Shankaracharya temple, where devotees offered day-long special prayers.

“I decided not to leave the Valley in the 1990s despite most of my relatives deciding to shift. Shops run by Muslims provided me all the paraphernalia for puja,” said Santoshji, who lives on a rented accommodation in Srinagar’s Zainakadal area in a Muslim house.

Hajira Jigar, a fisherwoman, set up a special stall on the Amira Kadal bridge near the Hanuman Temple. “Pandits prefer local fish and trout on the occasion. I got extra stocks for them. They are regular buyers for many decades on Herath,” she said.

Walnuts and fish dishes are central to the festival. In fact, the weather gods also kept their tryst with the festival. Rain, yearned for the day, did come in the first half of the day.

On the directions of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, who had held meetings with all deputy commissioners of the Valley, several fish counters, stocks of lotus stems (Nadru), vegetables, walnut and flowers were made available in areas where the Pandits reside.

“The Fisheries department was asked to deploy mobile fish vans at various places in the city. Besides, local fishermen installed vending shops at Habba Kadal and Ganpatyar localities,” said Mr. Khan. The power department was directed to ensure uninterrupted supply.

Herath is one of the biggest festivals of the community. “The festival used to be equally celebrated by the majority community in Kashmir. The fact is that at the end of the religious ceremonies, a day is observed as ‘Salaam’, which entailed celebrations with the Muslim brethren in Kashmir. There is no other festival in which a day is dedicated to feasting with our Muslim brethren besides relatives,” said Satish Mahaldar, chairman of the Reconciliations, Return & Rehabilitations of Kashmiri Migrants.

According to the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti (KPSS), an organisation of those Pandits who stayed back, around 1,200 had decided against migration. The Pandits constituted around 2% of the population of the Valley in 1990 and witnessed a mass migration in the face of the 1989 armed rebellion. The KPSS, with the help of locals, was able to reopen and restore over 40 temples.

The Pandits oppose any move by the government to set up separate colonies for displaced migrants claiming it may further sour the relations between the two communities.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 11:08:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/muslims-set-up-stalls-as-pandits-celebrate-herath-in-valley/article30874525.ece

Next Story