Srinagar: Rightly giving life and health of people precedence over faith and devotion, the LG Manoj Sinha led administration in J&K has cancelled Amarnath Yatra 2021 in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
The annual Amarnath Yatra would now be symbolic only however, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine as per past practice.
The decision has been taken considering the looming threat of a third wave which, as per health experts, is likely to hit India in the next six to eight weeks.
Considering the devastating second wave which had hit India right in the middle of Kumbh Mela and Char Dham Yatra earlier this year, cancelling Amarnath Yatra is being seen as a rational move to safeguard human life and a key step in Covid containment measures.
To mention, Saudi Arabia too limited Hajj 2021 to only those in the Kingdom and barred all international pilgrims in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the decision to cancel the Yatra was taken after a threadbare discussion was held with the members of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) including Swami Avdheshanand, DC Raina, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Prof Anita Billawariya, Sudarshan Kumar, Prof. Vishwamurti Shashtri, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Dr. C.M. Seth and Tripta Dhawan.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman 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.
Lt Governor also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol during Pratham Pooja and Samapan Pooja.
He further stressed that saints visiting the Shrine cave to perform Aarti as per “Shastra” would follow Covid appropriate behaviour.
SASB 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 morning telecast of Aarti at 6 am and evening Aarti at 5 pm, each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on SASB 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.