Srinagar: For the second successive year, the annual yatra to the Holy Amarnath cave located in the mountains of Kashmir has been cancelled in view of Covid-19 pandemic.
However, online ‘darshan’ will be arranged for the millions of devotees worldwide to enable them to pay their obeisance to one of the most revered Hindu shrines.
Earlier, the yatra this year was slated to begin on June 28 and conclude on August 22.
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, while announcing the cancellation, said the decision was taken after detailed discussions with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and it was felt that it is not advisable to hold this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest. The LG is the Chairman of the Board.
“In the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, J&K government has decided that Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra, annual pilgrimage would be symbolic only. However, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine as per the past practice,” an official spokesman said.
The LG said online darshan would help the devotees to pay their obeisance while avoiding travel and exposure, the spokesman said.
The Shrine Board has put in place virtual and televised mechanism for live Darshan of Aarti from the holy cave.
“It’s important to save people’s lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board is aware of and respect the sentiments of millions of devotees, and to keep the sentiments alive, the Board shall continue the live telecast of morning and evening Aarti from the Holy Cave shrine,” Lt Governor said.
The Lt Governor also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol on the significant and pious days like Pratham Pooja, Samapan Pooja.
He further stressed that saints visiting the Shrine cave to perform Aarti as per “Shastra” would follow Covid appropriate behavior.
Shrine Board CEO Nitishwar Kumar said arrangements have been made for ‘Chhari Mubarak’, the Holy mace of Lord Shiva, to be taken to the holy cave on 22nd August, when the yatra is to conclude coinciding with the festival of Raksha Bandhan.
“Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has been assessing the Covid situation in the Union Territory and the country. Our focus is on containing the pandemic and strengthening health infrastructure,” he said.
Kumar said both morning telecast of ‘Aarti’ at 6 AM and evening ‘Aarti’ at 5 PM, each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on Shri Amarnath ji Shrine board official website and the app specifically dedicated for the devotees.
The devotees can pay their virtual obeisance to the Holy Ice Lingam online through the Shrine Board’s link www.shriamarnathjishrine.com/AartiLive.html. The same may also be streamed through the Shrine Board’s mobile based application which may be downloaded through the link http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ncog.shriamarnath from the Google play store.