SRINAGAR: Shri Amarnathji Barfani Langar Organisation (SABLO), a group that provides food and shelter to pilgrims to the cave shrine, has strongly recommended the yatra should be reduced to 30 days only. The suggestion was made by the group in the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) meeting early this week, Jammu newspaper State Times reported.
The duration of the pilgrimage has remained a dispute between the tourism players and the yatra managers. It basically was a 14 days affair for most of its history. The yatra 2018 started on June 28, and is expected to conclude on August 26. The Shiv Lingham which is at the centre of the worship has already melted away, newspaper reports said. More than 243 thousand Hindus have had their darshan, so far and now only a trickle is coming to the cave shrine. Today only 1000 pilgrims are on way.
Suggesting the cutting down the pilgrimage duration to 30 days, SABLO said “90 per cent of the pilgrims have darshan of the holy Shiv Lingam at the cave within a month after the start of the yatra.”
“In a presentation made before the Board, SABLO stressed that the pilgrimage data for the past five years shows that more than 90 per cent of the yatris perform ‘darshan’ in the first 30 days,” the newspaper reported. “On this basis, SABLO argued that the period of yatra should be limited to 30 days, citing various reasons.”
Taking note of SABLO’s suggestion, the Board observed that this important issue needs to be placed in the public domain and discussed further, the newspaper quoted the spokesman saying.
Reviewing the arrangement of the ongoing yatra, the spokesman said the Board noted that this year the state governments of Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have deputed good number of doctors from prestigious institutions to assist the medical arrangements for the Yatra, at various camps.
The yearly pilgrimage to the cave shrine had been a fortnight long affair for most of its history. However, during the leadership of Lt Gen S K Sinha, as governor and head of SASB, the issue of prolonging the yatra duration became a major issue between the state government and the board. The state government eventually avoided making it an issue in wake of serious unrest of land row involving the shrine in 2008.