Amarnath Yatra cancelled in wake of Covid-19 pandemic, online darshan for devotees to be arranged

Srinagar: The annual Amarnath Yatra would be symbolic with devotees’ entry banned in the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the J&K government announced on Monday, adding that all the other traditional religious rituals will be performed at the cave as per usual practice. The 56-day yatra was scheduled from June 28.

The decision came after a detailed discussion was held within the board of members of the shrine board and other officials managing Covid-19 situation in the Union Territory.

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, held deliberations with Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, DGP, Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary, Home, Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary to Lt Governor, Nitishwar Kumar, who is also the CEO of Shrine Board, and directed that devotees should be enabled to attend the morning and evening aarti in online mode.

“It is 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,” the Lt Governor said.

“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. 

 A spokesman of the Board said a virtual and televised mechanism has been put in place for live ‘darshan’ of ‘aarti’ from the holy cave.

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The mace of Lord Shiva or ‘Chhari Mubarak’ will be taken to the holy cave on August 22, conclude the Yatra. This year, the day coincides with the festival of Raksha Bandhan.

This is for the third straight year that the yatra has been cancelled. In 2019, the Yatra was cancelled halfway after chaos broke in the valley following the scrapping of Article 377. In 2020, the pandemic and lockdown forced the authorities to cancel the annual pilgrimage.

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