Conch shell sounds change: temple reopens after 21 yrs in J&K | india | Hindustan Times
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Conch shell sounds change: temple reopens after 21 yrs in J&K

It’s 12:30 on Wednesday. A Kashmiri Pandit throwing sheep innards up in air as offering to gods failed to attract many eagles, a Hindu custom in Kashmir.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2010 12:41 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

It’s 12:30 on Wednesday. A Kashmiri Pandit throwing sheep innards up in air as offering to gods failed to attract many eagles, a Hindu custom in Kashmir. After repeated tries he finds eagles lining up. The birds took time to recognise their food as it was after a gap of 21 years that any offering was made at the Sheetleshwar Bhairav temple at Barbar Shah in Srinagar’s heart to celebrate Basant Panchami.

As shankh (conch shell) was sounded by Sanjay K Tickoo, head of the Kashmiri Pandit Sangarasg Samiti, and priests filled the temple with incenses fragrance, a motley crowd of Kashmiri Pandits gathered to participate in the repening of the temple. This temple is being guarded by a Muslim, Ali Muhammad, for the last 30 years.

"Local residents from the Muslim community knocked our doors asking us to open these temples, which are in dilapidated shape. It’s on their insistence and assurance we are able to open the temple again,” said Dr TN Ganjoo, a resident of Habba Kadal.

The Samiti has pledged to light up a deep (earthen lamp) everyday in the temple from now onwards. “This was one of the oldest temples of the Hindu faith. For the last 21 years, no deep (earthen lamp) was lit in the temple. Now onwards, light will be back in the temple,” said Tickoo, while standing next to the temple.

Tucked under the shade of Chinar tree, the temple is in ruins. While the roof has caved in at places, a block next to the temple has gutted in fire and the remnants of smoke can be traced inside the temple with black ceiling.

“January 20, 2010 has turned into a historical day for the Kashmiri Pandits living in the Valley by opening the historical temple and the Centre of the Community Activities after the gap of 21 years to celebrate ‘Basant Panchami’ an auspicious day in Holy Month Maagh (KP Calendar),” said Rattan Chaku, general secretary of the Samiti.

At present only four families are living in the vicinity of the temple. Barbarshah and Haba Kadal was habituated by hundreds of Kashmiri Pandits before the militancy started in 1989.

The KPSS has decided to take local inhabitants around these temples in confidence so that proper check and balance is maintained along with the protection of these religious centers from unscrupulous elements.

“We have constituted a three-member committee to approach the managing committees of mosques in the Valley to co-operate in the re-opening of these temples, which includes the cleanliness and to restore the past glory of these temples. We are hopeful this time around the majority community will co-operate,” said Sanjay Tickoo.

The KPSS has been successful in reopening more than 33 temples in Kashmir, which witnessed a mass migration of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990 after militancy erupted in the state. Besides, 25 more temples are now functional with the help of Muslim locals across the Valley in the last five years.