Illuminating the Victory of Good: Zool Festival In Ashimuqam Honors Sufi Saint

In the picturesque Lidder valley of Kashmir’s Anantnag district, a unique torchlight festival called Zool celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the beginning of farming activities after winter. Every April, thousands of people from different religious communities gather at the shrine of Hazrat Zain-ud-Din Wali, a renowned 15th-century Sufi saint, in Aishmuqam village.

Carrying blazing torches, or Zool, the devotees march through the streets and ascend a hillock to the saint’s shrine, located in a cave.

According to legend, Zain-ud-Din Wali was once a Hindu prince who embraced Islam and became a disciple of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din, a leading saint of Kashmir. The festival commemorates the saint’s spiritual powers and his victory over evil forces, symbolized by the snakes he tamed in the cave.

The Zool festival involves a peculiar procession, lit up by devotees, seeking the blessings of the Sufi saint.

Another folklore suggests that the festival celebrates the victory of a young orphan boy, Bumisad, who defeated a demon that terrorized the villagers. The illumination of torches and oil lamps symbolizes the joy and triumph of good over evil.

This extraordinary festival showcases the rich cultural heritage and spiritual diversity of Kashmir, where people from different backgrounds come together to honor a revered Sufi saint.

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