The annual Hindu pilgrimage, Aamarnath Yatra, to the temple in Jammu and Kashmir has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The pilgrimage, which takes place during July-August every year, has been cancelled by the organizing board keeping in view the COVID-19 situation in the country.
On July 21, the Jammu and Kashmir government announced the cancellation of the yatra while expressing their sorrow in doing the same. “The board has expressed its regret to announce the cancellation of Yatra 2020”, stated the state administration in a statement.
The Amarnath Shrine Board also gave a statement announcing the same and assured the devotees that they would be able to pray via the live telecast of the Aarti (a hindu ritual). “The Board is aware of and respects the sentiments of millions of devotees and to keep the religious sentiments alive, the Board sall continue the Live Telecast/Virtual Darshan of the morning and evening Aarti. Further, the traditional rituals shall be carried out as per past practice”, said the Shrine Board in a statement.
The board further elucidated on its decision to cancel the Yatra. It emphasized on the spread of the infection throughout the state and the amount of resources and human capital already being invested into it. “The health concerns are so serious that the strain on the health system, along with the diversion in resources to the Yatra will be immense”, added the Amarnath Shrine Board.
This decision by the state government comes after an order issued by the Supreme Court which asked the state to consider the “ground realities” and to take the decision on the yatra accordingly.
This is the second time in consecutively two years that the yatra has been cancelled. Last year, the yatra was cancelled mid-way as the government of India decided to abrogate the Article 370 of the Indian constitution and divided the state into two union territories.