The Bold Voice of J&K

Amaranth- Where ‘Amar-Katha’ was revealed

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Mahadeep Singh Jamwal

In mythology, Lord Shiva believed to be a living God, whose presence has been testified from the astronomy, Vedic myths and even some rituals, had narrated the truth about his immortality, which is called Amar Katha (the immortal story) to ‘Mother Parvati’ in Amarnath cave. In the holy cave at an altitude of 12,800 feet in the mountains of Kashmir, in between the period ‘Amavasya to Purnima’, a huge seasonal ‘Shivalingam’, spiritually people call it ‘Barfani Baba’, gets created naturally by the solidified snow that gradually melts with the moon’s cycle and it becomes site of faith for crores of Hindus. If we look at it scientifically, the structure is just a stalagmite that is formed due to the falling freezing drops of water from the roof of the cave. For Hindus, the stalagmite is more than a natural phenomenon, it represents their belief, faith and their devotion to Lord Shiva, who embodies the ice shrine and blesses everyone who seeks for him. The tradition of this pilgrimage has been around for a very long time and has now become one of the most revered and holiest spots and one of the most sacrosanct places in India as considered by the followers of Hindu religion. Puranas, though, tell the story of the sacred cave but there are a number of modern stories related to the rediscovery of the holy cave. A story of the discovery of the shrine is that Brighu Muni was the first to discover the cave in the valley of Kashmir. Another local story relates that a poor Muslim shepherd named, Buta Malik found the cave in 1850. The descendants of Malik had been the custodian of the shrine. Priests from Dashnami Akhada and Purohit Sabha Mattan had been taking care of the holy site. In 2,000, the Malik family and other organizations were evicted and the Amarnath Shrine Board was formed to look after the affairs of the shrine. It is headed by the governor of the state. Leaving aside all the legends about this cave, Amaranth Yatra is an incredible spiritual as well as an adventurous challenging trail involving risks. Amarnath Yatra opens for a short period and this year it is permitted from 30 June to 12 August 2022 only for registered Yatris. As expected this year, a large number of devotees are expected to pay their homage and till time more than three lack people have registered themselves for this Yatra. Government had cancelled the Yatra midway in 2019 on pretext of huge threat of disrupting the Yatra from terrorist organizations. But actually it was cruel joke with devotees and faith of Hindus as this miss conception was created among devotees just to implement BJP’s election Agenda of scrapping Article 370 and bifurcation of J&K into two union territories on August 5, 2019 (Why Yatra period was chosen for this decision, the present dispensation remained ever silent) and for next two years, Corona forced to disallow this Yatra. So the Yatra this year will remain focal point both for Yatris as well as for government in view of possibilities of disrupting the Yatra by anti-social & terrorist organizations. It’s only the faith and the devotion towards God that makes this journey possible; else it’s neither comfortable, nor secure & easy. As per the rules, visitors must have a registration card or permit. Without having one, travelers will not be allowed to proceed with the journey. The journey is not at all easy but with a deepening of focus, keen preparation, attention to the path below our feet, and respect for the destination at hand, it is possible to transform, even the most difficult journey into a sacred journey, a pilgrimage. The people with some physical disability or kids and even the elderly people are advised not to take on the journey: As such no one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years, and no woman with more than six week’s pregnancy is registered for the Yatra. We can avoid some odds by doing a few pre-preparations. Since the trek involves a lot of physical exertion, it is needed to improve breathing and enhance physical fitness. Before the actual date of the Yatra, we must accustom ourselves to practicing a fitness regime and taking morning or evening walks at least a month before the trek. Before actually taking the trek, we must get ourselves medically examined to ensure that we are physically fit. En-route we should avoid trekking alone and stay with a group and we don’t opt for any shortcut that can prove fatal for want of route locations and conditions. We will be comfortable during trekking this route if we carry some essentials in our carry bag such as: Warm clothing including woolen hats, gloves, water repellent coat, sturdy shoes, umbrella, supporting sticks for trekking, sunscreen and moisturizer, power bank and torch with extra batteries, first-aid kit with general medications and some ready to eat snacks. Since sabotage by terrorists and threat of sticky bombs is the biggest challenge during the Yatra, we require strict measures for conducting the Yatra in a peaceful atmosphere including deployment of sufficient numbers of security personnel, to launch awareness campaigns to sensitize the visiting pilgrims, especially drivers, about various steps which are required to be followed to avoid any untoward incident. The introduction of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for pilgrims to track their movement en-route to ensure their well-being is a good step. The introduction of Heli-Service and Battery Car is a welcome step for easement to pilgrims but only if operated with honest intentions and not like that in Shrine Board for Mata Vaishno Devi, which is a nuisance for common pilgrims and is a baby fondled by Shrine Board according to its own whims & wishes (I have faced it during my recent visit to Mata Vaishno Devi Darbar even after having priority quota slip). In matters of pilgrimage, should you be more like a shark? Just keep moving forward, never back. I part with the words of Wayne Muller, “To pray is no small thing. It is nothing less than a sacred pilgrimage into the heart of the whole world.”

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