Hundreds of earthen lamps lit the Teetwal hamlet in Jammu and Kashmir's Kupwara district on Monday as Diwali was being celebrated for the first time at the Mata Sharda Devi temple being reconstructed in the area on the Line of Control (LoC).
The ancient temple and its centre are being rebuilt with a view to revive centuries-old pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth temple in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Sharada Peeth -- "the seat of Sharada" -- is the Kashmiri name for goddess Saraswati. Sharada Peeth was one of the foremost ancient universities of the Indian subcontinent.
Teetwal is situated in Kupwara and the Sharda Peeth is situated barely 40 kilometers from this village.
Sharda Peeth is an abandoned temple located in Sharda village along the Neelum River, which was a major centre of learning. It is regarded as one of the 18 highly revered temples across south Asia.
After first time since partition, candles and diyas lighting marked Diwali celebrations at the Sharda yatra temple, being reconstructed in Teetwal. A large number of locals along with Army jawans lit earthen lamps, candles and distributed sweets to celebrate Diwali on Monday, Save Sharda Committee president Ravinder Pandita said.
Led by construction committee member Ajaz Khan, it was for the first time since partition that Diwali was celebrated in Teetwal.
The Save Sharda Committee has taken the lead of reconstruction of the temple and a Sikh gurdwara after reclaiming the same last year, he said.
"Prior to the tribal raids in 1947, a dharmshala and a Sikh gurdwara used to exist in the same plot that was burnt down in the raids. On similar lines, the committee is reconstructing the Sharda temple and the Sikh gurdwara. The reconstruction is nearly complete", Pandita said.
Teetwal was a traditional route of pilgrimage to Sharda Peeth which was last stopped in 1948 after the tribal raids and partition.
"Ever since no such yatra has taken place. The committee comprising the civil society of Tangdhar Karnah is actively engaged in recreating this ancient heritage," he said.