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Amarnath board shortchanging pilgrims
Rajeev Sharma, who recently returned from Amarnath cave
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
A Shiv lingam nearly 5 feet high, crudely prepared from snow, is placed prominently at the Amarnath shrine and is dwarfing the genuine lingam, which is much smaller.

This has been done by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board for the first time.

The reason is that the natural lingam has not attained its usual height and thickness this year.

The real lingam, though dazzling, is about 2 feet high only.

The distance between the artificial lingam and the natural lingam is barely 6 feet.

Given the prominence and size of the former, a large number of devotees end up seeing only the artificial lingam.

A large number of yatris are feeling shortchanged since they have failed to pay obeisance at the natural lingam.

Every now and then, personnel of the Amarnath board present in the cave behave like snow potters and use their hands to keep the crude lingam in shape.

The artificial lingam is dotted with marks of human hands.

Mr Rajan Gupta, general secretary of the Ludhiana-based Shri Amarnath Baltal Langars Organisation, which runs a bhandara at Baltal, says it is for the first time that such a sacrilege has been committed by the authorities.

Mr Anil Jindal, who runs his steel business from the Wazirpur industrial area here, and his wife Lalita say they have never come across an artificial lingam.

Mr Ashwini Gupta of Saraswati Vihar had the darshan of the real lingam for a fleeting moment, when he was being pushed out of the cave.

Mr S.K. Garg of Srishti Vihar, a Vaastu adviser, surmises that the under-formation of the lingam is due to the earthquake in October last, which had its epicentre in Kashmir.

He says if the trend is repeated in the next couple of years, it can mean that the damage to the cave has been triggered by the earthquake.

He suggests that the Government of India should get this matter examined by scientists from this angle.

Mr Bimal Kumar Singhal, who has been a sevadar at bhandaras for Amarnath yatris at Baltal for more than a decade and office-bearer of several langars, describes the move of forming an artificial lingam as an attack on Hindu sentiments.

He dismisses rumours that people running langars are behind the creation of the artificial lingam.


Board clarifies on lingam formation

Srinagar, June 18
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) today described as unfortunate the attempts being made to rake up a controversy over the ice lingam formation at the holy cave, saying there was no question of the board tampering with the sanctity of the shrine.

Reacting to media reports, a spokesperson of the SASB said the board got information from its sources from the holy cave that there was very small lingam formation this year compared to previous years.

A team of board officials visited the cave in the second week of May and found that the lingam formation had not taken place, he added.

The spokesman said the ice lingams of Parvati and Ganesha had formed at their normal place, 5 feet from the Shivlingam.

He said the board sent a team from the High Altitude Warfare School on May 14 to inspect the track and surroundings of the cave.

The team found the cave-top totally free from snow and the glacier cover thereon receded by 100 metres or so while, the lingam site was found dry.

The spokesman said prior to the commencement of the annual pilgrimage, complaints about piling up of snow flakes and application of vermillion on the lingam by some people had been received and immediately, the grill at the sanctum sanctorum was raised and the side entrance closed.

“This was primarily done to prevent the people from moving near the lingams. The absence or small formation of lingam is not a new phenomenon as it had been happening earlier,” he added.

On allegations about the man-made ice lingam, the spokesman said if that was the intention of the board, then a lingam of the original form and size could have been put in place.

“Who else knows better about the size and the shape of the lingam than the board,” he asked, emphasising that piling up of some snow over the lingam by someone could not be prevented as the shrine remained unguarded for more than 10 months.

The spokesman said the board was not a commercial organisation looking for profit, but only a facilitator to regulate and provide logistical support for smooth pilgrimage.

There was no question of trampling the sanctity of the shrine or playing with the religious sentiments of devotees, he added.

The spokesman expressed the hope that the pilgrims would not get swayed by concocted and motivated stories from quarters who had vested interests. — UNI


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