At Kedarnath, new darshan system to bring have nots at par with haves
Pilgrims visiting Kedarnath in the Chardham will now have a hassle-free darshan of Lord Kedarnath following a decision to withdraw the old system under which the well-off devotees, who would air dash to the Himalayan shrine in Uttarakhand, would get preferential treatment while offering puja.
“We have disbanded the old system, under which the privileged set, who would fly off to Kedarnath to have darshan of the deity, would get preferential treatment over the common pilgrims who visit the shrine by road,” Rudraprayag superintendent of police (SP) P N Meena said. “The new system is a regulated one and it has no room for preferential treatment for anybody,” he told Hindustan Times on Tuesday.
The system, would, however, “not be applicable” to the VIPs — ministers or officials. “In their case a set protocol will have to be followed and they will be permitted to have darshan of the deity on a preferential basis,” he clarified. This time the annual yatra (pilgrimage) to Kedarnath will begin after the ceremonial reopening of the shrine on April 29. The pilgrimage to the Chardham that comprise four fabled Himalayan shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri began on April 18.
Meena, however, dubbed the new system introduced to facilitate pilgrims’ darshan of Lord Kedarnth as egalitarian. “It permits both sets (the well off pilgrims who can afford to visit the shrine by air and those who come by road) to have darshan of the deity only when their turn will come,” he said.
The police official said that the earlier system had been introduced by Shri Badrinath-Shri Kedanath Temple Committee (BKTC). According to Meena, under that system, the BKTC would charge in advance from the pilgrims visiting Kedarnath by helicopters for darshan of the deity. While generating air tickets for them, a receipt for the money charged for darshan was also issued. “They used to submit those receipts to the priests and were allowed to have a darshan of the deity ahead of hundreds pilgrims standing in queues waiting for their turn for hours.”
Meena said the old system not only inconvenienced the common pilgrims but was also discriminatory. “Such a system was also not acceptable as it was functional on the temple precincts. Which is why it has now been replaced,” he clarified.
Under the new system, pilgrims who would be flown in during the morning hours would be permitted to have darshan of the deity in the evening. For those who arrive by air in the evening, their darshan time would be the next morning only. “Similarly, after every nine common pilgrims standing in a queue for darshan there would be one who would have arrived by air,” Meena said. “It means for every 1000 common pilgrims who will have a darshan of the deity on a day there will be only 100 (pilgrims) who would have arrived by air.”
The system would also help “the police maintain order on the temple premises where sometimes 16,000 pilgrims visit” per day. “Last year, some 4.71 lakh pilgrims had visited Kedarnath during the six-and-a-half-month long Chardham yatra,” Meena said.
In case of an emergency, the district administration also had kept in reserve a Quick Response Team (QRT). A sub-inspector would head the QRT comprising five constables. “Each of its (QRT) members will be equipped with sophisticated firearms like AK-47 along with bullet proof jackets. “This crack team will get into action, in case of any (terrorist) attack on the temple premises,” Meena said. “The security system, which was introduced in Kedarnath in 2016, has now been replicated in all the four shrines in the Chardham,” he added.
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