STATE TIMES NEWS
SRINAGAR: In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, J&K government has decided that Shri Amarnath Yatra, annual pilgrimage would be symbolic only however, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine as per past practice.This is the second consecutive year that the annual pilgrimage has been called off due to the pandemic. The online registration for this year’s pilgrimage was also earlier suspended.The 56-day pilgrimage was due to start on both routes of Pahalgam and Baltal simultaneously from June 28 and end on August 22.An official spokesperson said that a threadbare discussion was held with the members of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) including Swami Avdheshanand Ji, DC Raina, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Prof Anita Billawariya, Sudarshan Kumar, Prof. Vishwamurti Shashtri, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Dr. C.M. Seth and Tripta Dhawan on the present COVID-19 situation before arriving on the decision.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of SASB subsequently held a detailed 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 to morning and evening Aarti in online mode. He said it would help them to pay their obeisance while also avoiding and travel and exposure.The meeting was informed that 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.Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board CEO, Nitishwar Kumar, said, the shrine board have made the arrangements for the mace of Lord Shiva- Chhari Mubarak’ 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 observed.The CEO, Nitishwar Kumar said that 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.
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