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June 20, 2012

Devotees throng Baba Budh Giri fest in Poonch

Behram Galla (Jammu and Kashmir): Scores of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh devotees gathered at a temple to attend the annual Baba Budh Giri festival in Poonch district. The temple, which is located in Muslim -dominated village, is managed by Muslims. Abdul Aziz Butt,a temple caretaker, said Muslims were happy to receive devotees in large numbers. Offerings from devotees are enough to manage the temple's affairs for the year, Butt said. “The festival is celebrated on a very large scale and funds gathered on the occasion are enough to survive a year. We do not differentiate in a temple or a mosque. We have been taking care of this temple and by God's grace, we will continue doing it in coming years as well,” he said. The temple, situated in Pir Panjal range of the Valley has withstood attacks by militants. “ When militancy was at its peak, we never let militants destroy it. Our children and wives have sacrificed our lives in protecting it,” Butt added. A mass feast is organised for the devotees during the annual festival. Bushan Kumar Dutta, one of the organisers of the event, said that it was only because of joint efforts that they were able to host festivities on such a large scale. He, however, expressed displeasure over the lack of assistance from the government. “Inspite of increasing militancy, our Muslim brothers have always supported and helped us in taking care of this temple. We host a mass feast twice a year in which people from all the faiths participate. However, I want to express my unhappiness that government has never given any financial assistance to us despite such large gathering of devotees from all religions,” Dutta said. He further explained the support of the local Muslims in the upkeep of temple. “They (local Muslims) have been associated with temple since 1980. They have renovated this temple, which was destroyed thrice or four times, and they had not taken any money for that. These people revere this temple more than a mosque,” Dutta added.

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