The J&K government has cancelled the yearly Amarnath Yatra due to the ongoing pandemic and the looming threat of a third wave in the next month and a half. The decision is quite welcome and the government has rightly given the life and health of people precedence over their faith and devotion. As per official statement, the annual pilgrimage would be symbolic only; however, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine as per past practice. LG Manoj Sinha who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board took the decision after holding 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 travel and exposure. The LG said it was important to save people’s lives and hence, it was not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest. 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 behaviour. The Board has been assessing the Covid situation in the Union Territory and the country. The focus is rightly on containing the pandemic and strengthening health infrastructure. This is for the second consecutive year that the Yatra has been cancelled as last year too when the pandemic first hit the country, it was impossible to carry out the pilgrimage without risking the lives of the people. The decision to cancel it this year too is apt considering that the health experts are predicting a third wave hitting India in the next six to eight weeks. Recently, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria stated that the third wave is “inevitable” and it could hit the country in the next six to eight weeks. During the first wave in India, he said, the virus was not spreading that rapidly but all that changed during the second wave, and the virus became much more infectious. Now the Delta variant that’s spreading is much more infectious, he said and added that faster spread was likely. Considering the loss of lives in the second wave, it is imperative that the government takes all the steps to be ready to face a third wave. And any major religious or social exercise involving large gathering of people should and must be avoided at all costs. Human life is paramount and the authorities need to do everything to safeguard it.