In Pictures: Sharda Puja Performed By Indians Near LoC With PoK ‘For The First Time Since Partition’
The recent puja performed on the banks of the Kishenganga river at the LoC by the members of the Save Sharda Committee strengthens hopes for reopening the Sharda pilgrimage route on the lines of Kartarpur Corridor.
It is said to be one of the routes taken by pilgrims to visit the Sharda Peeth during the annual yatra in pre-partition days, but unfortunately today lies as the dividing line between India and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
But “for the first time since the Partition”, a puja was performed on the banks of the Kishenganga river at the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir’s Keran by the members of the Save Sharda Committee, which has been pursuing the case of religious and heritage tourism to Hindu shrines across the LoC in PoK.
The Kishenganga river, where the puja was performed, is a heavily guarded zone between the Indian Army and the occupying Pakistani forces.
Led by the committee’s founder Ravinder Pandita, the puja was performed on the eve of Sharda Diwas by followers of Swami Nand Lal Ashram, who is said to be the last one to have taken the seat at the Sharda Peeth until he migrated in 1948 owing to the ‘Kabali raid' on Kashmir organised by Pakistan.
During the puja, the worshippers also offered oblations to those who have lost their lives in the ongoing violence in Jammu and Kashmir.
“It was one of the traditional routes of annual Sharda Yatra during pre-partition days,” said Pandita, who had earlier tweeted that it was on the occasion of Sharda Divas or Sharda Ashtami as it is also called that the annual yatra was previously held to the shrine that today lies in ruins under Pakistani occupation.
"The puja assumes significance as it was allowed by Indian Army as well as the district police," says the committee, which has been demanding the reopening of the Sharda pilgrimage route on the lines of Kartarpur Corridor.
Members of the civil society in Pakistan, which has been targeted by the Imran Khan Niazi led government and the Pakistan Army, are also said to have paid obeisance at Sharda Peeth on the request of Save Sharda Committee.
The last time someone had been able to worship near the Sharda Peeth was in 2019 when a Hong Kong couple, P T Venkatraman and Sujatha Venkatraman, performed a puja on the banks of the Kishanganga (Neelum) river.
Although the couple wanted to offer prayers at the ancient Sharda Peeth temple, they were denied permission by Pakistani authorities but were allowed to conduct the puja at a location some 100 km away from the temple.
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