AMARNATH YATRA : SYMBOL OF INTEGRATION

Kashmiri youth and development of Kashmir

The Amarnath Cave of Baba Barfani, is the most sought-after pilgrimage spot for Hindus. The sacred shrine of Amarnathji is situated about 48 Kms, from Pahalgam, in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, and attracts devotees from across the globe. The Amarnath yatra stands tall at more than 13000 feet above mean sea level as an epitome of Hindu-Muslim Unity. The entrance is accessible only for a brief period of time during summer because of the snow-covered entrance for most of the year. The period of July–August is a popular time for the pilgrimage and devotees undertake a mountainous trek of 27 miles from the base camps of Pahalgam to reach the holy cave.

The association of the holy cave with the Muslim community, is not only limited to Buta Malik and his family, in fact there are numerous Muslims who work their sweat and hearts out to help Hindu Devotees in climbing these arduous altitudes and earn their daily livelihood. Local Muslim brethren can be seen helping the pilgrims through various services enroute. Bakarwal-Gujjars have been making a living for themselves by offering services to the devotees. People who are unable to walk this treacherous route and altitude due to health considerations, are carried by Muslim Brethren on horseback, stretchers and at times on their own backs. Every year when this yatra takes place, Muslims organise langars (Religious Feast) for the Hindu Devotees in keeping with the Hindu customs and rituals. It is often seen that it becomes easier to divide the society in the name of religion, faith and beliefs but Amarnath Yatra has become a unique exception throughout the world wherein people of different faith are united in the name of a specific religion itself.

What greater the irony could be, that this place is located in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir , which has been lampooned as the land of hatred and religious oppression by the severely biased and parochial media around the world. If you ask any common citizen of any foreign country as to what comes to their mind when asked about Kashmir, and the very first thing they would say is terrorism and violation of human rights in the name of religious oppression, because the world media projects it that ways.

Being a responsible citizen of India and a Kashmiri Muslim, there is a need to educate our brothers and sisters from length and breadth of the country, specially people from our neighborhood, Pakistan that they shun the path of violence. If some intellectual research and soul searching is done, it will emerge that all religions across the great nation of India lives peacefully in harmony with each other. Even the politicians of Kashmir have come on forefront to condemn the terrorist attacks which took place on the Amarnath Yatra in the past. The attacks were not seen as an attack on Hindus but it was seen as an attack on the Hindu Muslim Unity and the Secularism of India. Let’s all consciously give peace and harmony a chance again in our vale profound.

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