Snowfall on ‘Herath’ eve brings cheer to Kashmiri Pandit community

Even as “Herath” (Mahashivaratri) is being celebrated from tomorrow, snowfall on the festive occasion has cheered up the Kashmiri Pandit community in the Valley.
“Though it usually snows or rains during Herath, heavy snowfall on the festival eve is a very auspicious and good omen. As Lord Shiva’s abode mostly lies in the snowbound mountains, we consider snowfall a blessing. We hope and pray this augurs well for us all,” said Hindu Welfare Society Kashmir (HWSK) president Chunni Lal Bhat.
He said as per traditions, they would hold nightlong puja from tomorrow evening which will be followed by “salam” the day after.
“This night is very pious and therefore we offer puja all night long at our homes. The marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati had taken place on this night. Herath for us signifies coming out from darkness to light. We celebrate the festival for three days,” Bhat said.
During ‘salam’, Pandits visit friends and relatives to extend Herath greetings.
While the hustle and bustle that was usually seen during ‘Herath’ celebrations before the eruption of militancy is not to be seen anymore, the Pandits here nevertheless have been keeping their age-old traditions alive. As part of the distinct Herath celebrations, Pandits pray to Lord Shiva and Parvati with offerings of walnuts that are placed in a “watuk” (earthen pot). Walnuts are later distributed among friends and relatives.
Government officials have been directed to ensure that fresh fish, walnuts, honey and vegetables were made available at all locations wherever the Pandit community members resided.