Church officials in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, extended greetings to their Muslim brethren on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday on Dec.12 and prayed for peace in the region.
"We extend warm greetings to Muslims on the occasion of Eid-e-Milad and we pray for religious harmony, brotherhood and peace on this auspicious occasion," Father Roy Mathew of Jammu and Kashmir Diocese told ucanews.com.
Over 500,000 people converged on the Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley on Dec. 12.
According to popular Muslim belief, the shrine houses a relic of the Prophet Muhammad, a hair from his beard, which is put on display every year on his birthday.
People from different parts of the valley and outside the state joined nightlong prayers in the shrine despite sub zero temperatures. After congregational dawn prayers were held, devotees had the glimpse of the relic.
Legend says an Arab brought the relic to India in 1635. His son later sold it to a wealthy Kashmiri businessman, who brought it to Kashmir in 1700. His daughter became a custodian of the relic and established the shrine. Since then her male descendants have been its caretakers.
Muslims at Hazaratbal Shrine in Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir state get a glimpse of a holy relic — a hair from the beard of the of Prophet Muhammad — on the occasion of the birthday of Islam's central figure. (Photos by Umer Asif)