Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mata Kheer Bhawani Ragnya in Tullmulla Kashmir

Justify FullThe temple of Kheer Bhawani is situated in the village Maheshaspora, Tullmulla, which is 25 Km north of Srinagar city in Ganderbal district. This temple is highly revered by the Kashmiri Pandit community of the State .The temple is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Ragnya Devi. An annual festival is held here on the Jesht Astami (May-June) when Hindus visit the temple in large numbers to offer prayer to seek the blessing of the deity. Devotees also throng on every Shulka Paksh Ashtami round the year and perform hawan to please the mother Goddess. The historic temple of Kheer Bhawani was built by the then the Dogra ruler of Jammu and Kashmir. Maharaja Pratap Singh. Later it was renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh in 1912.

The temple complex is surrounded by streams and Chinar trees in the complex. The temple proper has a hexagonal spring where in idol of Goddess Ragnya is decorated and housed in a small marble-pillared temple canopy. The main spring of goddess Kheer Bhawanijee is an irregular heptagonal shape with apex called pad or feet to the east and the opposite side called shirr or head. The water of the spring changes its colour from time to time. According to a local legend, Lord Ravana of Great Indian epic, the Ramayana worshipped mother Ragnya, who showered her blessings on his kingdom. The Goddess thus resided in Lanka, the capital of the Lord Ravana. Later due to Ravana’s misdeeds, the Goddess cursed him and ordered Lord Hanuman to take her to Satisar (Kashmir) a place cut off from the world by snow-clad mountains.  (Shrine of Mata Ragnya at Lokitpur )

It is being said that Lord Hanuman obeyed and carried the Godess on her shoulders and enterd this great valley and on Goddesses direction selected this place and Goddess entered into this spring which becomes the abode of Godess Ragnya\Sharika. The temple is fondly called Kheer Bhawani because of the countless devotees who over the centuries offered milk, sugar, rice pudding or Kheer to the scared spring. This is an incarnation of Goddess Durga Mata the local name of the Goddess is Ragnya or Raginia.

The small temple made of white marble-pillared canopy is located in the middle of a natural spring or Kund, the walls of which are hexagonal in shape. A tiny footbridge over the spring leads to the temple. There are many clear water streams around the temple and many Chinar trees in and around complex provide shade to the devotees.

The atmosphere at the Kheer Bhawani temple gets spiritually surcharged during mela. Every body remains busy in either taking bath or preparing to do puja in the temple etc. The hexagonal temple kund or tank remains full of coloured flowers. So much so, a thick layer of petals keep floating on the water of the sacred tank. The temple pujaries or temple priests are busy in attending their clients to fulfill the obligations to complete the ritual with full devotion and attention.  ( Chandi Mata or Machail Wali Mata )

The devotees make offerings of flowers, lamps and of course kheer (traditional condensed milk) and pray for the well being of their family. Round the year thousands of devotees offer kheer at the feet of the goddess- it is believed that if your future holds something ominous, the goddess, knowing that would immediately turn the white kheer black making you careful and aware of your impending doom.

Before goint for prayers, devotees take a dip in the holy waters of a nearby stream. This creates a sort of spiritual aura around them.The large numbers of Kashmiri Pandit families stay for a day or two and get busy in preparation of food by spreading the bed spreads on the floor under the huge Chinar trees. Without fear and awe in the temple, every body in the family do his or her share of work.   ( Mata Bhuvaneshwari )

Keeping in view the huge inflow of Yatris, some residential quarters were constructed in the vicinity to accommodate them, particularly during inclement weather.To serve the devotees, some voluntary organisations arrange langers for yatris. Even army and paramilitary forces come forward to serve food and prasad. This mela usually lasts for three days. After which devotees rush to their homes-blessed and blissed. The mela provides an apportunity to local businessmen to do some business. They sell milk, flowers and earthen lamps to the pilgrims.

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