A year after the ‘Char Dham’ yatra was marred by the massive flashflood that had left hundreds of people dead and many others stranded, the annual pilgrimage on Friday began with the reopening of the sacred portals of the Himalayan shrines of Gangotri and Yamunotri for devotees.
Rush of devotees after the portal of Gangotri shrine was opened on Friday. (Santosh Bhatt/HT Photo)
Amid extensive arrangements to ensure safety of pilgrims, the portals of Gangotri dham dedicated to ‘Mother Ganga’, located in Uttarakashi district, were opened at 1201 hrs on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya after the traditional six-month winter break.
A large number of devotees flocked to the temple located at a height of over 10,000 ft to witness the ceremony marked by vedic rituals held by the chief priest of the temple in the presence of senior administrative and police officials, Bhatwari SDM KK Singh said.
The Yamunotri shrine dedicated to ‘Mother Yamuna’ in the same district was also reopened to devotees after special prayers and rituals performed by the head priest at 1225 hrs.
The other two temples Kedarnath and Badrinath, which are part of the char dhams, are also scheduled to be reopened this week on May 4 and May 5 respectively. Areas close to Kedarnath bore the brunt of the June calamity.
As this is the first season after the tragedy brought the yatra to an abrupt halt, elaborate arrangements have been made this year for safe conduct of the journey, including deployment of security and disaster relief personnel, biometric registration of pilgrims and issuing of weather alerts on mobile phones.
Apart from repairing and rebuilding new roads in the area, enough food and water supplies have been made available for devotees.
Huge deployment of security personnel has also been made including the disaster relief force constituted on the lines of national disaster relief force in slide-prone areas to ensure safety of devotees.
Namboodri declared officiating raval of Badrinath temple
The Tilpatra ceremony was performed for former nayab raval Ishwari Prasad Namboodri at Nar Singh temple in Joshimath on Friday. With this, Namboodri was declared the officiating raval (head priest) at Badrinath temple.
The Tilpatra ceremony was performed by Acharya Bhuvan Chandra Uniyal, dharmadhikari of Badrinath-Kedarnath temple committee and Girish Chandra Sati, the kul purohit of raval, in the presence of vedpathis, pandas and a large number of devotees.
After the Tilpatra ceremony, the code of conduct was read out to the new raval, who took the oath to abide by them. With this, the raval was invested with all the rights to conduct the puja at Badrinath temple.
The 150-year-old code of conduct regulates the movement and routine of the Raval and imposes strict discipline against any interaction with women.
The utsav doli of Badri Narain would reach Pandukeshwar with Ghadu Ghara (pitcher containing the sacred sesame oil provided by the royal family of Tehri Garhwal) on Saturday. The dolis of Udhav and Kuber would also join the utsav doli of Badri Narain and reach Badrinath temple on May 5. And with this, the portals of the temple would open up for pilgrimage.