Srinagar: The annual Amarnath Yatra would be symbolic only this year, in wake of the Covid pandemic, but all the traditional religious rituals will be performed at the cave shrine as per practice, the J&K government decided on Monday.
A detailed discussion was held with the members of the shrine board on the present Covid-19 situation before the decision.
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, held 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 the morning and evening aarti in online mode.
He said it would help them to pay their obeisance while also avoiding travel and exposure.
The meeting was informed that shrine board has put in place virtual and televised mechanism for live telecast of 'aarti' from the holy cave.
"It is 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," the Lt Governor said.
He also stressed upon the need to follow Covid protocol on the significant and pious days like 'Pratham Pooja', and the 'Samapan Pooja'. He further stressed that saints visiting the cave shrine to perform 'aarti' as per "Shastras" would follow Covid appropriate behaviour.
The shrine board CEO said that arrangements have been made for the 'Chhari Mubarak', the mace of Lord Shiva, to be taken to the holy cave on August 22, 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 said
Nitishwar Kumar said that both morning telecast of aarti at 6 a.m. and evening aarti at 5 p.m., each for 30 minutes, is to be live-streamed on the shrine board's 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 its mobile app which may be downloaded through the link http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?idcom.ncog.shriamarnath from the Google Play Store.