In Photos: Lighting the Torch of Faith in Kashmir’s Zool Festival

People in Kashmir organised the Zool Festival and burned Mashals (also known as Zool in local language) at the Aishmuqam Dargah Shrine of Sufi saint Baba Zaina-ud-din Wali in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.

(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The festival, which is held in April, marks the beginning of agricultural activities of the farmers in the district. It is a regular affair that portrays the state's rich culture and heritage. Devotees come from far off places to celebrate the festival in the shrine.

(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

Delicious food stalls and delicacies adorn the streets outside the shrine.

(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The festival is held after the evening prayers, and a torchlight procession is the main highlight of festival. The procession involves holding torch lights, locally called leshi in a peculiar way, which depicts the public seeking blessings of the saint.

Kashmiri Muslim villagers carrying torches walk on a mountain trail to reach the cave shrine of Sakhi Zain-ud-din Wali. (Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

People from all religions are believed to come and pay homage to the saint.

Locals claim that the festival continues to be celebrated from pre-Islamic times and dates back to about 2,000 years.

(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)
(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)

The shrine is situated on a hill lock, which is about 86 km away from Srinagar, en route to Pahalgam.

(Photo: Muneeb ul Islam)