The New Moon day is referred to as Amavasya or Amavas (in Kashmiri) or Amavasai (in Tamil) in the Hindu calendar. The one that falls on a Monday is of great significance and is called Somvati Amavasya or Sumri Amavas in Kashmiri. This year, it holds special significance because Shani Jayanti and Vat Savitri Vrat will also be observed on the same day. Several Hindus keep a day-long vrat and perform puja of their Ishta Devta/Devi, Lord Shiva, or Lord Vishnu. Moreover, it is an ideal day for paying obeisance to departed souls. Kashmiri Hindus would take an early morning dip in the Holy Vitasta, usually at Somyar Ghat, for those residing in nearby areas. According to Hindu tradition, devotees offer water to the Sun God and prayers to Lord Shiva and His family. Many Hindus perform Shradha rituals to appease their ancestors. Devotees perform Hawan, Yajna, Tarpan, and Pind Daan on this auspicious day. Some devotees also organize Gayatri Mantra Jaap for their ancestors. It is also said that on this day, devotees should plant saplings and trees.

Hindu worship enshrines a process in which the human form is lifted by its inner soul to merge with the absolute. In their temples, Hindus worship the divine as it unfolds before them. The Sanskrit religious culture recognizes the essential unity between the universal and the existential. In Bhairava Stotra, Abhinavgupta says, “Having become one with thee, I adore you in the heart of my hearts. You are the first cause, the projection, sustenance, and dissolution of the universe and the protector of the destitute. Everything is pervaded by you; you are one with the self, one and only one without the beginning and the end.” The communion of the Atman and Parmatman fills the Hindu temples with its effulgence and the voice of a million bhajans (hymns). For ages, on the banks of Vitasta, Ganga, Krishna, Kaveri, and Brahmaputra, Hindu temples have resounded with the voice of a million bhajans amidst the din of conches and bells.

Temple at Pandrethan near Srinagar. Photo By British Library / Pinterest

The civilizational unity of Hindus in India is symbolized by its collective consciousness of their spiritual heritage. Kashmir has been a part of the civilizational unity of Hindus in India for centuries. The remains of ancient temples in stone are a mute testimony to the continuity of the history of Hindus in Kashmir. Centuries of oppression and persecution have left their mark on the Hindu heritage of Kashmir. The whole architecture of Hindu temples is that of the abode of the Parmatman. Inside the temples, the devotee partakes in the spirit of the divine. Rising above themselves and reposed in the lap of the Mother, they merge in the music of the celestial song “Gouri (m) Amba (m) Amburu Hakshi (m) Ahmide.”

Somyar Mandir, Yarbal. Photo By Vinod Kumar / Pinterest

The Somyar Mandir, situated on the banks of Vitasta at Habakadal in Srinagar, is no longer thronged by Hindu devotees on Somavati Amavasaya, who are languishing in exile hundreds of miles away. Somyar stands desolate in silence. The voice of a million hymns that filled its portals is also sunk in silence! (Kashmir—Hindu Shrines by Chaman Lal Gadoo)