Portals of Kedarnath open; first puja held on behalf of PM Modi

The temple, however, has been kept out of bounds for pilgrims in view of rising coronavirus cases

Portals of Kedarnath open; first puja held on behalf of PM Modi

The Kedarnath temple during opening of its portals with prayers and chanting of mantras, in Rudraprayag district, on Monday, May 17, 2021. PTI

Dehradun, May 17

The portals of Kedarnath opened on Monday after a six-month winter break with the first puja being held by priests on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, officials said.

Only a select few people attended the temple's opening ceremony in view of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. It is for the second consecutive year that COVID has cast a shadow on the pilgrimage to the temple which has been kept out of bounds for pilgrims in view of rising coronavirus cases.

A Chardham Devasthanam Board official said the first puja was held by priests on behalf of the prime minister as the gates of the famous Himalayan temple were opened at 5 am.

A limited number of temple priests, including Rawal Bhim Shankar Ling and Chief Priest Bagesh Ling, and officials of the administration and Devasthanam Board attended the ceremony.

Expressing happiness at the opening of the temple, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat prayed for the welfare and good health of the people.

The yatra to the temple is temporarily suspended for the sake of people's safety, Rawat said, asking people to have virtual "darshan" of Baba Kedar and perform puja at home.

Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj said Chardham Yatra will be started soon after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.

The temple was decorated with eleven quintals of flowers on the occasion, the Devasthan Board officials said.

COVID norms like wearing of masks and social distancing were strictly followed by those attending the event, he said.

While Yamunotri and Gangotri temples were opened on May 14 and May 15 respectively, Badrinath will open on Tuesday for the priests to perform regular prayers.

However, no pilgrims will be allowed to visit any of these temples till further orders in view of the COVID surge. PTI

 

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