A temple in Srinagar opened after 31 years on the occasion of Basant Panchami, which was celebrated on February 16 (Tuesday). The temple was closed due to terrorism that hit the region three decades ago and let to the exodus of the Kashmiri Hindu communities.
The temple, known as the Shital Nath Mandir, is situated in Habba Kadal area of Srinagar. It witnessed the offering of prayers, rituals, and worship on its reopening after three decades.
In a post on Twitter, ANI quoted a devotee as saying, "Local Muslims also helped us organise this puja here today. They brought puja items and helped us clean the temple." The devotee is Ravinder Razdan, "one of the organisers of the puja at Shital Nath temple in Srinagar."
The exodus of the Hindu communities in Jammu and Kashmir owing to terrorism came as a double blow to the temple life of the Shital Nath Mandir when its doors were closed three decades ago.
On the reopening of the temple, the devotees performed arti and hawan. The temple administration distributed prasad. A devotee says in the video clip that the temple is known for the worship of Bhairon.
She says, "The worship of Bhairon has been happening in the temple for nearly three to four centuries." She adds that the hawan was performed with the worship of Bhairon; the reopening of the temple has happened after 31 and they will continue to perform the hawan in the days to come.
Another devotee, who had travelled from Jammu for the rituals and worship on the occasion said that many devotees who were wanting to offer prayers at the temple were not able to turn up owing to the weather.
He added that once the weather improves, the number of devotees visiting the temple would go up.
Razdan says in the video that thousands of devotees used to visit the temple, and the vibrant temple life will surely return. He added that the devotees want to return to the Valley, to start living here again, and pray at the temple.
The devotees have pooled in efforts, a devotee adds, to ensure that a pujari conducts the rituals on a regular basis.
Another devotee says that Mohammad Ashraf, a local man, is the caretaker of the temple.
Basant marks the change in weather, the onset of Spring, and Basant Panchami is synonymous with the worship of Saraswati.
The reopening of the temple has renewed temple life at the Shital Nath Mandir and marks a new beginning for the devotees. Mantras were recited at the temple on Basant Panchami.
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