Srinagar, Feb 16 (IANS) Thousands of people braved the cold and inclement weather Wednesday to offer prayers at Kashmir Valley's holiest Muslim shrine of Hazratbal in summer capital Srinagar to celebrate the birthday of Prophet Mohammad.
Dressed in warm clothes, men, women and children converged at the shrine on the banks of the Dal Lake to have a glimpse of the Holy Relic (a hair of the Prophet's beard) after each namaz.
Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi (Prophet's birthday) was celebrated by Muslims throughout the world.
Tastefully illuminated, the marble dome of the shrine shone as devotees prostrated themselves for prayers after which the Holy Relic was displayed by the custodian of the Relic at the shrine.
Markets around the shrine and at many other places here have been illuminated to celebrate the occasion. There was a state-wide public holiday.
Praying for penance, peace and prosperity, Muslims mingled with each other cutting across social, political and regional barriers.
Sweetmeat shops have come up around the shrine where brisk business is done by sellers.
The state government has made elaborate arrangements of transport, sanitation, health care and security to facilitate the smooth arrival and departure of the devotees who would come here from different parts of the Valley.
'I have come from Kokernag village in Anantnag district. I have been regularly visiting the shrine on this day, since the age of 10 with my father,' said Muhammad Rajab, 72, who offered prayers here.
'Today, I have brought my grandson and granddaughter to carry forward the family tradition,' he said.
Rajab said he prayed for peace as his grand children's future depends on continued peace and normalcy in the Valley.
'Unless there is peace, there would be no normalcy and unless there is normalcy my grandchildren cannot be educated properly. Thus, I prayed for peace, well-being and prosperity for my family in particular and the Muslim Umma in general,' he said.
State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is also scheduled to offer prayers at the shrine later in the day.