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4,500 devotees leave for annual Kheer Bhawani Mela in Kashmir

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Jammu: Amid tight security, nearly 4,500 devotees, including members of the Kashmiri Pandit community, on Friday left from Nagrota area here to attend the annual Kheer Bhawani mela in Kashmir, officials said.
The annual Kheer Bhawani Mela, celebrated on Zeisht Ashtami, will take place on May 28 at the shrines of Tulmulla (Ganderbal), Tikker (Kupwara), Laktipora Aishmuqam (Anantnag), Mata Tripursundri Devsar (Kulgam), and Mata Kheerbhawani Manzgam (Kulgam) in the Valley.
The four-day pilgrimage commenced on Friday as Divisional Commissioner (Jammu) Ramesh Kumar, Relief Commissioner K K Sidha and prominent Kashmiri Pandit leaders jointly flagged off the yatra from Nagrota area, ensuring the safety and well-being of the devotees.
“The relief department, administration, and security forces have made comprehensive arrangements to ensure the success of this pilgrimage,” DC Kumar told PTI here.
This year, an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 migrant Kashmiri Pandits from various parts of India and abroad are expected to visit the five renowned temples in the Valley during the annual fair.
Preparations are in full swing at the famous Ragnya Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.
The Dharmarth Trust, which organises the mela, said all arrangements have been put in place. Some final touches were being given to the arrangements.
“I appeal to all to come in large numbers and take blessings of the deity. All arrangements have been put in place by the Dharmarth Trust with the cooperation of the district administration,” Darshan Kumar, manager of the Trust, told PTI here.
The administration has implemented rigorous security measures, including sniffer dogs, metal detectors, and thorough verification of devotees. A large number of security personnel are escorting the yatra, ensuring the safety of the pilgrims.
“Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday took a review of the preparations. The arrangements are better than last year,” Darshan said.
Giving details, the manager said tents for the night stay of the devotees were in place and 50 washrooms have been made functional.
“We used to have 15-20 mobile toilets, but this year, we have brought 50 more. The lighting system has been put in place, and the number of blankets has been increased so that the devotees do not face any inconvenience. There are arrangements for water and electricity supply. We hope the weather remains fine, but we have arranged for waterproof tents,” he said.
President of the Mata Kheer Bhawani Welfare Society Kiran Watal said, “The LG administration and police have provided excellent arrangements and security measures. Everything is progressing smoothly. This is the first time in the history of this yatra that such massive arrangements have been made.
Vikas, a devotee from Ganderbal district, said, “After a wait of five years, we are finally able to participate in the Mela. This opportunity fills us with great joy.”
Asha Gigoo, a devotee who has already reached the temple shrine, said all the arrangements are in place and the administration is on their toes.
Rajinder Raina, a devotee from Himachal Pradesh, said, “I have come here after 11 years. There are better arrangements. The parking is a little far away, but that is alright. The tents are in place for the night stay of the yatris,” he said.
Darshan said this year the police have asked the trust to register the local stall vendors after proper verification considering the security aspects.
“We have been directed by the police to inform them and seek permission for establishing stalls by the locals. A tehsildar will ascertain the credentials of all of those before giving permission to put up stalls,” he said.

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