In a significant decision Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) is soon going to start free 24×7 Langar (community kitchen) for Vaishno Devi pilgrims.
As per the officials, decision in this regard has been finalized and it would directly benefit around 80 lakh pilgrims, who trek over 12 kilometers from Katra to perform darshan at sacred cave shrine, situated at the Trikuta Hills, Reasi.
The first phase of Langar would be set-up for pilgrims at ‘Tarakote Bhawan on new Ban Ganga-Tarakote Marg-Bhawan route. The food items would be available round the clock from mid May.
“Like other famous religious destinations, the Shrine Board has decided to introduce free langar for the pilgrims and preparations for this are being made,” said the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SMVDSB Simrandeep Singh. “The menu for langar is almost ready”.
He, however, said that at a time around 200 pilgrims can be offered the ‘langar’ but in case of too much rush, a counter will also be set up so that the pilgrims can wait for their turn after getting the token.
The board also prepared an exclusive Dogri menu for the visiting pilgrims.
“Dogri food will be the highlight of the menu as people coming from parts of the country must also know about the culture and traditional items of this region,” the CEO said.
Pilgrims will get traditional Black Chana-Puri, Halwa, tea and traditional Dogri food including Daal, rice and Ambal will be served at lunch whileas evening tea will be served with mathi and other bakery items.
Similarly, in the dinner, vegetable, daal, rice, chapati and sweets will be served.
“The menu will keep changing depending on the availability of seasonal vegetables and it will not have the similar items that are available at the Bhojanalayas (retail food outlets, run by shrine board),” said the CEO.
“Facility is likely to be introduced from mid-May and details will also be uploaded on official website,” he added.
Earlier, free community kitchen for Vaishno Devi pilgrims was available only at Ban Ganga at specific timing. The Langar was set-up in late nineties by T-Series founder Gulshan Kumar, and it continued even after his death.