The annual Amarnath pilgrimage has been cancelled for the second consecutive year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and will be “symbolic only" Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha said on Monday.
“Shri Amarnathji Yatra cancelled in wake of Covid-19 Pandemic. Decision after threadbare discussion with Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board members. Yatra to be symbolic only. However, all the traditional religious rituals shall be performed at the Holy Cave Shrine as per past practice," he said in a tweet.
“It’s important to save people’s lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year’s pilgrimage in the larger public interest," he added.
It's important to save people's lives. So, it is not advisable to hold and conduct this year's pilgrimage in the larger public interest.— Office of LG J&K (@OfficeOfLGJandK) June 21, 2021
An official spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board said a discussion was held with the members including Swami Avdheshanand, DC Raina, Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Prof Anita Billawariya, Sudarshan Kumar, Prof. Vishwamurti Shashtri, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Dr. C.M. Seth and Tripta Dhawan on the present Covid-19 situation before arriving on the decision, he said.
He said that the Lt Governor, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board subsequently held a detailed deliberation with Chief Secretary Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, DGP, Dilbag Singh, Principal Secretary Home Shaleen Kabra, and Principal Secretary, CEO of Shrine Board Nitishwar Kumar, 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 and travel and exposure.
The 56-day yatra to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Lord Shiva, located in the upper reaches of Himalayas, is scheduled to start from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal on June 28 and culminate on August 22.
The pilgrimage was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Amarnathji Shrine Board CEO, Nitishwar Kumar, said, the shrine board have made the arrangements for the mace of Lord Shiva- Chhari Mubarak’ 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 observed.
Kumar said that the morning telecast of Aarti at 6 AM and evening Aarti at 5 PM, each for 30 minutes, will be live-streamed on Shri Amarnath ji Shrine board official website and the app specifically dedicated for the devotees.