A Kashmiri Pandit's angst about Amarnath

A press release issued by the Government of J&K has informed that the first aarti of the Sri Amarnath Yatra was held at holy cave in the early hours of the morning. The head of government of J&K, L G Shri G C Murmu attended the first aarti, the Chaddi Mubarak Poojan. This important religious function was held at Pahalgam in south Kashmir.

For the Kashmiri Pandits, the yatra to Sri Amarnathji is the most important one as it is believed to be the final act to attain salvation. The symbolic Charri Mubarak signifies sanity and tradition.

May I take the liberty to point out that from times immemorial, the Sri Amarnathji Yatra is undertaken by the devotees in traditional manner. The time for the yatra is laid out in the holy scriptures.

For centuries, every year, year after year it has been fixed and has been always conducted in the traditional manner. The tradition and practice of going for the holiest of holy pilgrimages is defined and as such inalterable. This is what the Amarnath Mahatmya says.

Although there have been times in the history — like  during the brutal Harsa and Sikandar Butshikan — when the holy yatra was curtailed or kept a low key affair. Even in those oppressive times the traditional yatra schedule has never been altered let alone be changed.

The first deviation occurred last year when for the first time in the history of Sri Amarnathji pilgrimage the yatra was cancelled. This was when J&K state was converted in to a Union Territory.

May be last year because of the situation it could not have been helped. But this year again the traditional practice followed by our ancestors has been breached and violated.

The L G sahib, along with his official machinery have made the first Darshan on a day which coincides with Guru Purinama. This is total variance to Srawana Poorinama.

The Kashmiri Pandits, all through their history have walked the holy path of the pilgrimage as prescribed in our scared scriptures. But this time we all stand muted while witnessing a new alien practice.

While it is true that altering religious practices and deviating from the traditional customs may not be desecration but   for the Kashmiri Pandits, the torch bearers of Kashmir Shaivism, this must not only ring a bell but raise an alarm.

What did not happen even in the times of Harsa and Sikander Butshikan is happening now. Is there any link of this changed timing and practice to the new Domicile Law?  Is it because of that there is a change in timing and way of the ancient Amarnath yatra and Darshan? These are some questions that the community needs to ponder over and address.

Be that as it may, the irrefutable fact is that no matter what the reasons are, the age old tradition of Kashmiri Pandits connected with Sri Amaranthji Yatra has gone for a six.

All I can is to pray to Lord Shiva to pardon my community for this silence and the acquiescence.  I hope the present government realises what damage it is doing to age old religious beliefs and tradition of Kashmiri Pandits.