Decked up with attractive and colourful lights, Mata Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra on Tuesday welcomed pilgrims on the first day of ‘Navratri’ with all COVID-19 protocols in place.
Every year thousands of pilgrims from across the country visit Mata Vaishno Devi in Navratras, however this year due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the pilgrims. The devotees coming from different states for ‘darshan’ have to present their negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report upon entering the temple.
“We have to present negative RT-PCR report upon entering the temple. The temple administration has made good arrangements for precautions against COVID-19. I pray that this infection is eliminated soon,” said a devotee from Delhi.
According to Katra Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Kuljeet Singh, sanitisation of temple premises has been intensified and pilgrims who will be arriving by trains will undergo COVID-19 tests at railway stations.
“Sanitisation of temple premises has been intensified. Pilgrims arriving by trains will undergo tests at the railway station,” said Singh.
Ramesh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Shree Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, visited the temple on Monday to inspect the arrangements made for devotees and also reviewed the arrangements made at the travel registration counters at various places in Katra.
Thermal scanners and hand sanitising dispensers have been put in many places. A sanitisation drive is going on and pilgrims are being tested for COVID-19 on their arrival at the Katra railway station, temple officials said.
The celebrations of Sharad (autumn) Navratri involve worshipping Goddess Durga and her nine forms. The festival is celebrated in different ways across the country. Over the next nine days, devotees offer their prayers to Goddess Durga and observe fasts.
Also known as Sharad Navratri, the occasion is believed to mark Goddess Durga’s victory over demon Mahishasura, signifying the victory of good over evil. The 10th day of Sharad Navratri is celebrated as Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami.