The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a land of unity in diversity and reflects the true plural ethos of a secular India wherein people from various communities strive for peace, love & harmony. The festivals of one religion are celebrated with great fervor by different religious communities. This kind of capability of the locals in the valley displaying brotherhood, peace and harmony amongst each other is what is popularly known as ‘Kashmiriyat’ that has won many hearts in the country. The traditional communal harmony in the valley has always enabled the peaceful co-existence of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs highlighted by mutual respect for each other’s places of worship and synthesizing cultural and religious practices as well.

In the village Aragam in district Bandipora, the houses of worship for Hindus & Muslims are just a few meters apart. In a recent instance, the town was lit up with communal harmony this Navratri & Ramzan. The village became a shining example of social solidarity. The Muslims and Hindus in the village share joy and sorrow together, extend helping hand to each other. Carrying forward the legacy of harmony, it was overwhelming to watch shiva idols being crafted by local Kashmiri craftsmen in the district and thereafter the entire mohalla gathering to present it to the Kashmiri Pandit families on Navratri. Similarly, in reciprocation the Kashmiri Pandit families exchanging sweets and pleasantries with the local Kashmiri families the very next day to mark the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan. The very thought itself reflects and highlights the principle of mutual respect by respecting each other’s religion, sentiments and emotions. Also, people in both communities reach out as family members. The Kashmiri Pandits in the village never left the valley. They have been living in peace and village Aragam is an apt example of Unity in Diversity, strong affinity between both communities and a lesson for all to emulate.

In another instance of a unique display of communal harmony, it has been commonly seen that Kashmiri Muslims performing the last rites of a Kashmiri Pandit/ Hindu as per religious customs from cutting wood to making arrangements for cremation, everyone from the village coming forward to offer help and be part of the rituals while the youth of the village volunteering to arrange money upon learning about the death.

Amarnath yatra is yet another example in symbolizing communal harmony, unity in diversity and brotherhood in the valley. From welcoming the pilgrims intending to visit the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, to directly facilitating the yatra, serving the Hindus coming from different parts of the nation and world, to their safety and security, the locals of Kashmir have left no stone unturned in ensuring a wonderful spiritual and hospitality experience to the highest degree irrespective of caste, creed, religion and colour since many years. Undoubtedly, an epitome of religious harmony represented by Kashmiris speaks volumes about Unity in Diversity of our great country.

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