There are many people who use religion as a weapon to spread rumours and spark conflict but we recently came across something very kind and generous. Parvez Khan who is a resident of Jammu waits for Amarnath Yatra each year. He sets up a stall at the Pathankot-Jammu highway where he welcomes the travellers with garlands and kheer (rice pudding).
Those who went for the annual pilgrimage to the Hindu shrine in Amarnath cave have turned into friends. Parvez said, "We may follow different religions but faith is universal. We set up a community kitchen for pilgrims so that they taste something sweet (kheer) before setting out for the Yatra. You must have heard about 'Athithi Devo Bhavo' (guest is god). We want to spread the message in our state and the whole country".
Sachin a pilgrim said it has become a ritual to visit Parvez's stall every year. He stated that "Every year before we start our journey, we come to this stall to savour the kheer".
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Imtiyaz, who sells Kashmiri handicraft in Pahalgam, is just one of over 5,000 Muslim traders, shopkeepers and workers who welcome nearly two lakh Amarnath Yatris every year from all over the country. He said, "When the pilgrims come here, we exchange phone numbers. They call us on Eid and we call them on Diwali. We take very good care of Yatris because they are our guests. It gradually turns into a lifelong relationship".
One of the taxi drivers who took pilgrims from Srinagar to Pahalgam this year said, I pray to Allah that weather clears up, and they return after the Amarnath Darshan".
For the pilgrims, it doesn't matter if anyone is Sikh, Hindu, or of any religion says, "We do not feel any difference between Hindus, Muslims or Sikhs here. Everybody is coming forward to help the Yatris. Even in this bad weather, everybody is coming out to cooperate with us".
Parvez Khan has set a great example towards the community and it not only stays with it - it goes with every person who met him at his stall.