Vaishno Devi shrine, Raghunath temple witness big dip in offerings amid lockdown
Amid the ongoing curfew in the wake of Covid-19, the offerings at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta Hills of Reasi district and the ancient Raghunath Temple in Jammu city have fallen drastically.
Since the Jammu and Kashmir administration ordered the closure of the Vaishno Devi shrine on March 18, it is said that the Board suffered a loss of around ₹20 crore.
Owing to the closure of the temples, dismayed devotees are now relying on electronic mode to witness daily rituals at the cave shrine.
Not being able to reach out to deities has led many to use technology to perform puja and other rituals.
A senior official of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board said, “Puja and other rituals besides darshan of holy ‘pindis’ are relayed live twice a day for two hours each on MH One channel”
“During Navratri festival, the base camp of Katra, on average, witnesses a footfall of 35,000 to 45,000 pilgrims in a day,” he said.
“Irrespective of a peak or lean season, we used to get donations of around ₹45 lakh every day. We could not analyse the reason behind it but now everything has dried up because pilgrimage remains suspended since March 18 and it’s very depressing to see deserted Katra town, twin tracks and sanctum sanctorum,” he said.
The shrine board has around 3,000 employees including 80 priests.
“Obviously, there is a cash crunch because we run on donations and have no other source of income,” he added.
For the first time in the history of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Yatra, no pilgrim has visited the holy cave shrine since March 18.
During the nine-day long Navratri festival, the shrine had suffered a loss of ₹4.05 crore.
Historic Raghunath Temple in the heart of Jammu city continues to wear a deserted look.
Mubarak Singh, president of Dharmarth Trust that manages around 130 temples and shrines in Jammu and Kashmir, said, “We are not doing live webcasting but we do post arti and other rituals on Youtube and WhatAspp. The rituals are being performed by the pujaris twice a day.”
“From all the temples we used to get around ₹45 lakh every month and our salary bill is over ₹35 lakh. Donations have ceased since the temple was closed down for devotees,” he said.