In Sumbal area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, local Muslims renovated and reopened a temple on the occasion of Herath which was celebrated across Kashmir by Kashmiri Pandits.
Nand Kishore Temple is a Shiv temple situated on the banks of river Jhelum in Sumbal and locally known as Nand Raaz temple, named after a Kashmiri Pandit priest around 40 years ago. The temple was reopened by local Muslims on the occasion of Herath to show harmony and support for the return of migrant Pandits to their native place.
According to the locals, the temple was reopened after 27 years as it had remained closed after the migration of Kashmiri pandits from the valley during 90s. On the occasion, hundreds of local Muslims gathered and cleaned the premises of the temple. The locals were also carrying placards in their hands. “We all have suffered, let’s bring Kashmiris together, and let’s celebrate next Herath together,” read some of the placards.
“When we were young people would throng this place on the occasion of Herath but since 1990 there has been no celebration of Herath in the premises of this temple and since then the temple has remained closed. We would celebrate the Herath together. Pandits would distribute walnuts among the Muslim brethren and they would send cooked fish on the occasion. We used to take meals at Pandit homes,” said Muhammad Sultan, a local resident.
He said that they want to celebrate every auspicious occasion with their Pandit brethren as was the practice in the past and as a goodwill gesture “we reopened this temple on the occasion of Herath.”
The locals said, “The Pandits left the valley on their own and we would want them to return, we would welcome their return. We are trying to send a positive message so that migrant KPs would return to their homeland and settle with us. We hope that we would celebrate next Herath together.”
They said that Kashmiri culture and tradition is incomplete without Kashmiri Pandits and “we urge them to return to their native places without any fear.”
“Every Kashmiri understands and accepts that the migrant Kashmiri Pandits are part of the Kashmir society and everyone wants them to return to Kashmir. Today we celebrated Herath for them, opened this temple and cleaned its premises as we want them to return to the valley,” said local resident Farooq Ahmad.
On the occasion, the locals also distributed sweets and decorated the temple.
[This post is originally published by Greater Kashmir and reproduced here with permission]