Keep Kousar Nag Yatra Away From Politics, Say Devotees

3 August 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
M Aamir Khan

Srinagar: Amid opposition and support for the Kousar Nag yatra, devotees are disappointed over the row that has erupted over the ancient pilgrimage. They are saying that the yatra used to be performed 'silently' and with devotion by a 'few but devout' pilgrims and should be kept away from politics. 'Unfortunately, the yatra was projected as a new phenomenon that would have an adverse effect on the environment. However, from ancient times to the period before militancy, it was being performed silently by a few but devout pilgrims. A group of devotees only wanted to revive it. Just around 40 to 50 devotees would have started the pilgrimage from Aharbal (in south Kashmir) and returned within three or four days,' said Chunni Lal, spokesman of the Hindu Welfare Society Kashmir (HWSK). He said the yatra was once a symbol of Hindu-Muslim bonhomie and Sultan Zainul Abidin too had visited Kousar Nag in the 15th century. 'Zainul Abidin had traversed a long distance from Vijayseswara (present-day Bijbehara) to Kousar Nag in 1463 to express solidarity with Hindus,' Lal said. He regretted that politics was being played from 'both sides' over the pilgrimage. 'While opposition to the yatra has surprised us, we also condemn the state government's role and its criminal silence as it did not facilitate the yatra after initial promises. And those who are apparently creating noises outside in favour of the yatra too should not play politics. Instead of issuing provocative statements, they should bring to the fore the essence and significance of the yatra so that misconceptions over it are cleared,' Lal said. Vinod Pandit, chairman of the All Parties Migrant Co-ordination Committee (APMCC), a group which was to revive the yatra, said the pilgrimage to Kousar Nag, the mention of which can be found in the holy Hindu scriptures, was of immense significance to Kashmir Pandits as they believe that Lord Shiva had meditated at this south Kashmir lake. He said Lord Shiva had meditated at the lake, which is also called Kremsar in Sanskrit, and one can also find mention of the yatra in Rajatarangini (Chronicle of Kings), an account of Kashmir's ancient history written by the 12th-century historian Kalhana. Pandit said the APMCC only wanted to revive the yatra after 25 years from its traditional Kashmir route. The opposition to the yatra has surprised us, but we also condemn the state government's role and its criminal silence as it did not facilitate the yatra after initial promises. And those who are apparently creating noises outside in favour of the yatra too should not play politics.