Kedarnath portals thrown open to Chardham pilgrims amid religious fervour
The portals of the Kedarnath shrine in Uttarakhand were thrown open on Sunday morning for the next six months amid performance of age-old rituals and chanting of Vedic hymns.
Devotees shouted ‘Jai Kedar Baba’ when Raval Bheemashankar Ling, the head priest, opened the main gates of the shrine at 6:10am. The sanctum sanctorum opened at 6:15am.
The idol of Kedar Baba, brought in a flower-bedecked palanquin from Ukhimath’s Omkareshwar Temple where he is worshipped during the six-month winter break, was installed in the sanctum sanctorum.
Beats of the army band lent a melodious air to the occasion. Despite overcast conditions in the Kedar valley on Saturday, more than 5,000 devotees from different parts of the country and abroad made it to Kedarnath dham to pay their obeisance to the deity on the opening day.
Decked up with flowers, the temple looked majestic. The daily laser show, The Eternal Shiva, will be an added attraction for the devotees this year at Kedarnath.
“Till April 25, more than 1 lakh 10 thousand devotees had got themselves registered online for the Kedar Yatra,” said BD Singh, CEO, Badri-Kedar Temple Committee (BKTC). “This is the first occasion after the calamity of 2013 when the devotees flocked to the shrine in such a large number on the opening day.”
Last year 4.71 lakh pilgrims made it to Kedarnath; this year the number is expected to be higher, BKTC officials said.
“Enough boarding facilities for the pilgrims at Kedarnath, and electricity, water, healthcare and safety arrangements have been made on the trek route from Gaurikund to Kedarnath,” said Mangesh Ghildiyal, district magistrate, Rudraprayag. “Availability of doctors and medical aid has been ensured at every one kilometre along the pedestrian route.”
Governor KK Paul, assembly speaker Premchand Aggarwal, BKTC chairman Ganesh Godiyal, local MLA Manoj Rawat and BKTC officials were present on the opening day.
With the opening of Kedarnath and Badrinath temple scheduled to reopen on Monday, the number of Chardham yatris is all set to get a boost in the coming days. The portals of Yamunotri and Gangotri were opened on April 18.
Portals of the four famous Himalayan shrines are closed every year with the onset of winter as they become snowbound and reopen with the start of summer.
CAPTION: Devotees during the opening of the portals of Kedarnath shrine on Sunday/ HT Photo
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