Diwali celebrated at Sharda Devi temple in J&K for first time in 75 years

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On Sunday, Diwali was celebrated at the Mata Sharda Devi temple in the Teetwal hamlet of Kupwara district, Jammu and Kashmir, for the first time in 75 years, according to the event organizer. Earthen lamps illuminated the hamlet, and prayers were performed at the temple, which has been rebuilt near the Line of Control (LoC).

Ravinder Pandita, the head and founder of the Save Sharda Committee, stated that this is the first time in 75 years that this has happened. He told ANI, “It’s a joy to see Diwali being celebrated in the same manner as it was 75 years ago. This temple was renovated and opened on March 22.”

He also appealed to the government to open the Sharda Peeth, or “seat of Sharada,” like the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara. “We ask the government to open Sharda Peeth like Kartarpur Sahib,” he stated.

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Following the Diwali rituals, people gathered outside the temple to set off fireworks. The ancient temple and its center were rebuilt in order to revitalize the centuries-old pilgrimage to the Sharda Peeth temple in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Sharda Peeth is an abandoned temple in Sharda village along the Neelum River that was once a significant center of learning. It is considered to be one of South Asia’s 18 most revered temples.

The Save Sharda Committee took the lead in rebuilding the temple and a Sikh gurdwara after reclaiming them.

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Mr. Pandita stated that the temple was inaugurated on March 22 of this year. He explained, “This temple was renovated and opened on March 22 after it was demolished in past attacks. A dharmshala and a Sikh gurdwara used to exist on the same site prior to the tribal raids in 1947, but they were burned down in the raids.”

Teetwal was a traditional pilgrimage route to Sharda Peeth, but it was closed in 1948 following the tribal raids and partition.

Sharada Peeth

Sharada Peeth is a ruined Hindu temple and ancient centre of learning located in the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. Between the 6th and 12th centuries CE, it was among the most prominent temple universities in the Indian subcontinent.

Sharada Peeth translates to “the seat of Sharada”, the Kashmiri name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati.

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Sharada Peeth is located approximately 150 kilometres (93 mi) from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, and 130 kilometres (81 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir.

It is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away from the Line of Control, which divides the Pakistani- and Indian-controlled areas of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is situated 1,981 metres (6,499 ft) above sea level, along the Neelum River in the village of Sharda, in the valley of Mount Harmukh, believed by Kashmiri Pandits to be the abode of Shiva.

The Sharada temple has played a significant historical role in Kashmiri Pandit religious culture. It is believed to be the earliest shrine dedicated to Shaktism, or Hindu goddess worship in Kashmir, with later shrines including the Kheer Bhawani and Vaishno Devi temples.

In March 2023, Indian Home Minister Amit Shah stated that the government will forward towards opening a Kartarpur styled corridor for the temple. On 22 March 2023, Union Home Minister Amit Shah e-inaugurated the Sharda Devi temple in Teetwal, Karnah in Kupwara district, which is close to Line of Control. Sharada Peeth is situated barely 40 kilometers from Teetwal.

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