The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board on Monday announced that 7,000 pilgrims will be allowed per day to pay obeisance at the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi from October 15. The shrine is located in the Trikuta hills of Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir. This year, the Navratri will begin on October 17 and will end on October 26.
Board's CEO Ramesh Kumar said that the earlier limit was 5,000. "But the board has decided to increase this to 7,000 pilgrims per day from October 15, irrespective of any limit on the number of pilgrims from within or outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir." Ramesh added that registration of pilgrims will continue to be done online to avoid people gathering at the yatra registration counters.
He said keeping with past practice, the work of floral decoration of the Mata Vaishno Devi Bhawan, Atka and the area surrounding it, which is done on the occasion of the holy Navratras twice a year, has started and will be completed well before the commencement of the Shardiya Navtratras. "Likewise, the illumination of the bhawan area with attractive and colourful lights is also going on," he said.
The Shat Chandi Maha Yagya will be organised by the board at the cave shrine during the Navratras. The ritual performed for the peace, prosperity and health of humanity will conclude with the "purna ahuti" on the auspicious occasion of Mahanavami, he said.
In view of the huge number of pilgrims expected to visit the shrine during the Navratras, the services of ponies, "pithoos" and "palkis" will be allowed to operate on the track between Katra and the bhawan from October 15 in a regulated manner by following all the safety norms and guidelines notified by the government in order to ensure the safety and health of the pilgrims, the board staff and the service providers.
A detailed SOP in this regard will be issued shortly, the CEO said.
He also took stock of other arrangements such as ensuring adequate water and an uninterrupted power supply along the tracks leading to the shrine and in the bhawan area, sanitation and cleanliness, availability of special fast-related food at the bhojanalayas of the board etc.
It is pertinent to mention that the bookings by the devotees for the Shradha Suman Vishesh Pooja and the Atka Aarti have also commenced.
Kumar said the accommodation facilities of the board at the bhawan, Adhkuwari, Katra and Jammu have also been thrown open for the pilgrims, following all the prescribed SOPs.
Similarly, for the ease and comfort of the pilgrims, all other supplementary facilities set up by the board such as battery-operated vehicles, passenger ropeway and helicopter services are also operating smoothly by strictly following social distancing norms and other precautionary measures, he added.
Free community kitchen facilities at Tarakote Marg and the Prasad Kendra at Sanjichhat, besides the bhojanalayas along the track and in the bhawan have also been operationalised for the pilgrims, the CEO said.
With PTI Inputs