Bhaderwah: After being restricted to limited numbers for 2 years due to COVID-19 pandemic, hundreds of devotees joined three-day-long Kailash Yatra on Wednesday from Jammu and Kashmir’s Bhaderwah with the holy mace amid tight security arrangements.
The 'Charri Mubarak' (holy mace) was taken out from 2070-year-old Vasuki Nag Temple at Gatha around 8 am and was joined by another mace from Vasuki Nag Temple Vasik Dhera Bhadarwah, officials said.
While thousands of devotees used to earlier take part in the annual yatra depicting ancient Nag culture, the pilgrimage to the 14,700 feet high Kailash Kund was conducted in a restricted manner for the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This year much to the relief of devotees, authorities lifted all the restrictions thereby paving the way for thousands of Nag followers to rejoin the Pilgrimage after two years. Former MLC Naresh Kumar Gupta and Veteran leader Mast Nath Yogi also participated in the rituals connected with the ancient yatra at Vasik Dhera.
As a mark of respect towards other religions and to add symbolic gesture depicting the age old communal harmony and mutual brotherhood, members of muslim community led by Mohd Ashraf Goni and Tanveer Ahmed Dev stood to see the pilgrims off and wish them at historic Seri Bazar.
"This is a message for everyone that we all Hindus and Muslims are one. We don't discriminate. God is one and We should live peacefully in society," said Mohd Ashraf Goni (70), member of senior citizen Council Bhadarwah.
SP Bhadarwah, Aftab Alam Mir said strict security arrangements have been made for the peaceful conduct of the yatra.
"Three tier security system involving Police, Para Military and Army has been put in place all along the 21 km long treacherous route for the safety of the pilgrims," SP Bhadarwah said.
Charri Mubarak' would reach the high altitude lake on Friday morning and the accompanying devotees would perform the traditional prayers and have a holy dip in the ice cold water there.
According to local belief, Kailash Kund was the original abode of lord Shiva, but he gave it to Vasuki Nag before moving to Manmahesh in Bharmour area of Himachal Pradesh.
The pilgrimage, which commences on the 14th day after 'Shravan Purnima', is considered as one of the toughest, as pilgrims have to trek 21 Km steep Kailash mountains range to reach the holy Kund (lake), where devotees take a dip in the ice-cold water to take the blessings of serpent God, Head priest Suresh Jogi said.