On the eve of Anant Chaturdashi, special prayers were offered by Hindus across the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In Kashmir this day used to be celeberated in a big way in famous Pap Haran Nag temple in village Salia in Anantnag district.After migration of Kashmiri Pandits, a temple dedicated to original Pap Haran Nag was built in Bantalab Jammu where Pandits celebrat this festival every year on Anant Chaturdashi.This year also hundreds of devotees held special prayers and Hawan in this temple that was organised by Pap Haran Nag – Karkut Nag Trust Salia.
Pap Haran Nag has its origin to the era of Pandivas. It is held that an Ashwameed Yaga was to be performed by the Maharaja of Inderprestha State and learned Brahmins were required to be summoned for reciting of mantras and puja. In this regard they deputed legendary Bhimsen to Kashmir valley for inviting the learned Kashmiri Pandits for the said purpose. On reaching village Sailia, Bhimsen was tired and hungry. He saw a mud hut near the village and entered it. To his surprise, he saw an old woman wailing and weeping inside the hut. He enquired about the reason of desperation. The old woman told him that there is a demon living in a cave near the village and he has perpetuated a reign of terror in the area. He would take one person each day as his diet. The day of arrival of Bhimsen was the day when the poor lady’s son had to be taken by the demon for his diet. Bhimsen consoled the lady and assured her about the safety of her dear son. He offered himself to be presented to the demon and asked the old lady to prepare food for the demon. He reached the cave on the assigned day where the demon was living. Demon came out to receive the person and the food. Legendary Bhimsen fought with the demon and killed him. Whole village was relieved of the terror unleashed by the demon.
While assigning the task of bringing the learned Kashmiri Pandits for the Yagna, Bhimsen was asked not to do any sin during the course of journey. Bhimsen started to repent and in the melee he went into a sleep in the open ground. A divine voice came from the sky directing him to have a bath in a spring which was to emerge at the place he was sleeping. Next day a beautiful spring emerged at the said place and Bhimsen took a bath in the spring and thus was relieved of the sin which was travelling in his mind. Thereafter Bhimsen took the learnt Kashmir Pandit Brahmins to Inderprastha.
The day of emerging of the holy spring was Anant Chaturdashi and the day is celebrated by all the Kashmiri Pandits especially the locals by performing Yagna and puja at this shrine besides having a holy dip in the sacred spring. From that day Ashud Shakulapakch Chaturdashi is celebrated by a number of Kashmiri Pandits at Pap Haran Nag shrine. It is said that the King of Kashmir Maharana Pratap Singh also used to visit this shrine once in a year during his regime for a dip in the holy spring.