Holy mace performs darshan at cave shrine, returns to Pahalgam

Yatra symbol of communal harmony: Mahant


Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Aug 3: Though this year’s Shri Amarnath yatra remained suspended due to spread of dreaded COVID all over country as well as in Jammu and Kashmir, the Chhari Mubarak (holy Mace) of Lord Shiva performed darshan at cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3888 metres above the sea level in deep Himalayas in Anantnag district of South Kashmir on the occasion of Shrawan Purnima today.

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The Chhari Mubarak of Shri Amarnath Ji, one depicting Lord Shiva and another Goddess Parvati led by Mahant Mahant Deependra Giri Ji who is also the custodian of holy mace was carried to cave shrine from its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar early this morning through special chopper. Traditional rituals and Pujan were performed by chanting Vedic hymns at Holy Shrine wherein Lord Shiva recounted ‘Amar-Katha’ to Goddess Parvati. Selected number of Sadhus accompanied the holy Mace due to COVID-19 Pandemic this time.
Reciting of Vedic hymns and ringing of conch shells further added to reverberation of atmosphere in the surroundings of holy cave.
Talking to Excelsior, Mahant Ji said collective prayers were offered for early eradication of the pandemic which has spread all over the globe. He appealed to one and all to make collective efforts carrying out their social responsibility by wearing mask, keeping social distance and frequently sanitizing hands so that pandemic is wiped out and “we all once again can have our natural and normal life back without any restrictions”.
He said the Amarnath yatra is the symbol of communal harmony for hundreds of years as Muslim brethren are also associated with arrangements with the annual pilgrimage every year.
Though holy mace reached the cave shrine at 8.30 am but the Puja was performed at 10-am due to ‘Mahurat’ (religious omen) considerations. After performing day long Pujan the Chhari-Mubarak reached Pahalgam in the evening where the Pujan and Visarjan (immersion) ceremonies will be performed on the bank of river Lidder tomorrow. The Sadhus accompanying the holy mace will be served the traditional Prasad before Chhari Mubarak leaves for its holy abode at Dashnmai Akhara, Srinagar.
As per reports, Additional CEO, Anoop Kumar Soni also joined the Puja at cave shrine today. The live telecast of the Puja was also held direct from holy cave for the devotees this time.
Meanwhile, the security forces and other staff deployed on yatra duty at holy cave enroute Baltal have started winding up their camp after the holy mace returns to Pahalgam.
It may be recalled that this year the Government cancelled the yatra due to alarming rise in COVID pandemic across the country for the safety and security of pilgrims. Earlier in June this year, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and Baba Amarnath and Buda Amarnath Yatri Niyas (BABAYN) had decided to run the pilgrimage for 15 days from July 21 to August 3 but after the surge in pandemic cases across the country including J&K this decision was changed and Government decided to cancel this year’s yatra. However, this restriction was not imposed on Chhari Mubarak which performed all the rituals associated with the annual pilgrimage right from Ashad Purnima also known as Viyas Purnima.
Last year also, the yatra was stopped half way by the Government apprehending trouble after the annulling of special status of J&K granted under Article 370 and 35 (a). The one and half month long yatra which was to conclude on August 15 had to be stopped on August 1 apprehending trouble following the Government decision on special status to the erstwhile State.
Till August 1 last year , 3,39,687 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country had visited the holy cave. The highest number of pilgrims visiting the holy cave was in 2011 when 6,43, 000 performed darshan of naturally formed Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva.
Yatra to holy cave was banned from year 1991 to 1995 due to terrorism. However, it was resumed in 1996 and since then it was continuing unhindered though terrorists attacked the yatra many times. In 2000, 30 pilgrims were killed by the Hizbul militants followed by killing of 13 yatris in 2001 and eight each in 2008 and 2017. But the terrorist threat never dampened the spirits of the pilgrims who came in large numbers to have the darshan of Lord Shiva in the holy cave from different parts of the country.
For the security of the pilgrims, the Government every year provided three tier security right from Jammu to holy cave besides radio frequency, monitoring through satellite and drones was also made for the safety and security of the pilgrims.