For the first time after 32 years since they left the Kashmir Valley, as assertion of their roots, Kashmiri Pandits celebrated the 'Navreh' (New Year) festival on Friday along the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar city.
According to the Kashmiri Pandit calendar, Navreh is the first day of the new year.
Before their exodus, local Pandits used to celebrate the beginning of the new year at Mata Sharika Devi temple situated on a hillock called the 'Hari Parbat' in the middle of old city of Srinagar.
Friday's Navreh festival was organised by a Jammu-based theatre and cultural group called 'Vometh', which in Kashmiri means 'hope'.
Titled 'Kashmir Navreh Milan 2022', a cultural programme and an exhibition depicting Kashmiri Pandits in their traditional attire, was held on Friday which was attended by many local Muslims and tourists.
The tourists were amazed to learn about the culture, lifestyle and the heritage of the local Pandits.
Rohit Bhat, one of the organisers of the festival, said, "We want to recreate the ambience of Navreh so that everybody sees and understands the rich tradition and culture of the Kashmiri Pandits.
"We have included some unique presentations of Kashmiri culture and tradition in general in the programme. We are happy to see the participation and encouragement that we have received."
A painting competition attended by many local school children was organised in collaboration with the Private Schools' Association during the festival.
Various stalls were arranged in order to display the artefacts of Kashmiri Pandits, including typical household items, paintings and many items, showcasing their culture.
Stalls of Kashmiri Pandit food items, books, bakery and the famous Kashmiri brew called 'Kehwa' was served during the festival.
P.K. Pole, Kashmir Divisional Commissioner, G.N. Itoo, Director Tourism, GoC of 31 Sub Area, Major General S.P.S. Vishwas Rao, B.B. Bhat, President Zestha Devi Prabhandak Committee, and G.N. Var, President of Jammu & Kashmir Private Schools' Association were among the guests who attended Friday's festival.