Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday wished people, particularly the Kashmiri Pandit community, on the occasion of Jyeshtha Ashtami. In Jammu and Kashmir, Jyestha Ashtami is celebrated by people at the shrine of Kheer Bhawani in Tullamula in honour of their patron goddess Ragnya Devi. Kheer or rice pudding is prepared on this day as an offering to the goddess. "On the auspicious occasion of Jyeshtha Ashtami, greetings and best wishes to everyone, particularly the Kashmiri Pandit community," PM Modi tweeted. "We bow to Mata Kheer Bhawani and pray for everybody's health and wellness," he said.
On the auspicious occasion of Jyeshtha Ashtami, greetings and best wishes to everyone, particularly the Kashmiri Pandit community. We bow to Mata Kheer Bhawani and pray for everybody's health and wellness.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 18, 2021
For the last few years, people from Jammu visited the temple at Tulmulla in Ganderbal district to attend the annual Kheer Bhawani Mela but this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, devotees could not travel to Kashmir. Instead they offered prayers at the temple in Janipur, which is a replica of the temple in Kashmir.
"Only 20-25 people have been allowed to offer prayers at a time at this temple of Mata Kheer Bhawani in Janipur...," Virinder Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
Rohit Koul, a sevak (worker) at the temple, said, "We prayed that the pandemic ends soon and we are able to go back to normal life. At least 12,000 - 13,000 people used to offer prayers at this temple before the pandemic. Unfortunately, for the last one or two years, no one was allowed to celebrate the festival or even go to the temple in Kashmir. Due to the COVID-19 protocols, the langar (free meal service) has also been cancelled," he said.