Despite COVID, thousands of pilgrims pay obeisance in temples on first Navratra

Beautifully decorated Durbar of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji on Tuesday.
Beautifully decorated Durbar of Mata Vaishno Devi Ji on Tuesday.

12,000 devotees visit Vaishno Devi, Mahayagya begins

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Apr 13: The first Navratra was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across Jammu region today. Despite COVID pandemic, there was heavy rush in the holy temples where thousands of pilgrims paid obeisance during the first day of Navratra which is also the beginning of Hindu New Year as per lunar calendar.

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As per reports, about 12,000 pilgrims drawn from different parts of country visited holy shrine of Vaishno Devi Ji in Reasi district today and performed darshan where the Shrine Board organised Shat Chandi Mahayagya while 16,000 pilgrims visited holy temple of Bawe Wali Mata in Jammu and paid their obeisance there.
In addition to it, thousands of pilgrims visited various other shrines in Kathua, Samba, Reasi, Udhampur, Doda and Kishtwar districts on the first Navratra today.
While 5000 pilgrims paid obeisance at holy shrine of Chichi Mata in Samba district, 8000 pilgrims paid obeisance at Kali Mata temple in Jasrota Fort in Kathua district, 4000 devotees visited holy shrine of Sukrala Mata in Billawar and 3000 in Bala Sundri temple also in Billawar tehsil of Kathua district. Besides, 3000 devotees paid obeisance at holy shrine of Nagri Parole in Kathua district.

Devotees paying obeisance at Bawe Wali Mata Shrine in Jammu on first Navratra on Tuesday.-Excelsior/Rakesh
Devotees paying obeisance at Bawe Wali Mata Shrine in Jammu on first Navratra on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

All the shrines and temples were fully decorated with buntings and flowers. They were also illuminated with colorful lights befitting the Navratra festival celebrations.
As per reports there were large queues of devotees in front of Bawe Wali Mata shrine in Jammu and other temples of the region. The rush of devotees started from early in the morning and it continued late in the evening. The devotees were chanting bhajans and reciting Jai Mata Di while performing darshan.
However, the police deployed at Bawe Wali Mata shrine and other shrines were making announcement through public address system asking devotees to maintain social distancing in view of COVID.
The authorities and shrine management committees had made elaborate arrangements for the devotees.
Some of the devotees, while talking to Excelsior said that they have come to perform the darshan of Mata and pray to free our nation and world from the dreaded pandemic.
However, the number of the devotees performing darshan at holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi was comparatively very less because of COVID-19 than previous years when about 45,000 pilgrims used to perform darshan at the shrine on the first Navratra.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board had made elaborate arrangements in view of Navratra festival and yatris were given instructions to maintain social distancing and observe all COVID SOPS enroute as well as at holy cave.
Meanwhile, Shat Chandi Maha Yagya organised by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SASB) at the holy cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji commenced today on the auspicious occasion of beginning of Navratras amidst chanting of Vedic Mantras and performance of other religious ceremonies.
The Maha Yagya, which is being performed during Navratras for peace, prosperity and health of humanity, will conclude with Purna Ahuti on Ramanavami.
Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board was present on the occasion. The Shat Chandi Maha Yagya will be telecast live from 10.30 am to 12 noon daily from today onwards during Navratras.
Like in the past, the Bhawan of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, Atka and the area surrounding it have been beautifully decorated with exquisite flowers besides the illumination of Bhawan area with attractive and colourful lights have also been installed. As was done in the last year’s Shardiya Navratras, there will be bhajan and bhaint performances by the renowned artistes during morning and evening Atka Aarti during these Navratras also.
The CEO said that the Shrine Board has made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the pilgrims who are expected to visit the holy cave of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi during Navratras. These arrangements, interalia, include round the clock water and power supply all along the tracks leading to the shrine, sanitization, medicare and availability of special “fast related” food at the catering outlets of the Shrine Board. Adequate arrangements have also been put in place for ensuring strict enforcement of all the precautionary measures vis-à-vis COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.