The Amarnath Yatra has been cancelled in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the board that manages the shrine said on Monday.
In a statement, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board said that it has decided to hold the annual pilgrimage in a symbolic manner. All rituals will be performed at the shrine according to past practices, it said.
The decision was taken after Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha held discussions with the members of the board, senior police officers and administrative officials.
At the meeting, Sinha, who is also the chairperson of the shrine management board, directed officials to ensure that devotees can attend the morning and evening aarti online. “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 lieutenant governor said.
Sinha said that priests visiting the shrine cave to perform the aarti would follow all Covid-19 appropriate behaviour. Nitishwar Kumar, the chief executive officer of the shrine board, said that it has made arrangements for the mace of deity Shiva to be taken to the cave on August 22, when the yatra will conclude.
“Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board has been assessing the Covid-19 situation in the Union Territory and the country,” he said. “Our focus is on containing the pandemic and strengthening health infrastructure.”
Kumar added that both the morning aarti at 6 am and the evening one at 5 pm will be live-streamed on the board’s official website and the mobile application specifically dedicated for the devotees.
This is the second consecutive year that the annual pilgrimage has been called off due to the pandemic, reported NDTV. The online registration for this year’s pilgrimage was also earlier suspended.
The 56-day pilgrimage was due to start on both routes of Pahalgam and Baltal simultaneously from June 28 and end on August 22.
Meanwhile, India reported 53,256 new coronavirus cases, taking its overall count of infections since the pandemic broke out in January 2020 to 2,99,35,221. This is India’s lowest daily rise in cases in 88 days. The country’s toll rose by 1,422 to 3,88,135.