Bandipora: After a gap of several years, a group of 70 yatris will embark on the Chota Amarnath Yatra, a one-day ritual, in north Kashmir's Bandipora district on Thursday.
The yatra has been traditionally held on the day of 'Sharvani Purnima' when the devotees also pay obeisance at the Maha Dnyaneshwar temple located near the cave.
The devotees would leave from the temple in Kaloosa village at 5 am and trek to the cave shrine located deep in the Sampthan forests of Arin village, cutting across scenic Naranag and Dardpora.
The cave is narrow and 40 to 50 feet long, and it opens into a triangular-shaped small room.
One has to crawl amid chilling waters to reach the cave shrine.
The yatris arrived in Kaloosa on Wednesday to make final preparations for the yatra, while special prayers were also offered.
The yatris and the yatra coordinators expressed their excitement and hope about the resumption of the yatra and being allowed by the administration this year.
They also expressed hope that the yatra would continue regularly like before and that more people who wanted to pay obeisance at the cave shrine would also have the opportunity in the near future.
The coordinator for Chota Amarnath Yatra, Opender Krishan Koul said that there was so much excitement among the yatris.
“We received many requests asking us to allow them to participate in the yatra, but we had to turn them down,” he said.
Koul said 70 people would embark on the ritual.
He said that they were hopeful that more people would be allowed to pay obeisance at the cave shrine in the future.
"People in Arin are excited. They are waiting for us to arrive after eight years," Koul said.
Ramesh Razdan, a Kashmiri Pandit religious head at Bandipora, said that before the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, the yatra would start a day earlier.
“We would spend the night at Naranag and then trek uphill to pay obeisance in the morning the next day,” he said.
Razdan said that the last time the yatra was held was in 2015.
Chairman of Sharada Mata Trust (SMT), Ashok Kumar Bhat said that they wish that the yatra should continue every year like it was held in the past.
“Keeping in view the faith attached to the shrine, we request the administration to allow the yatra for two to three days in the future,” he said.
The devotees also thanked the Muslims for their support and cooperation in making the yatra possible.
Vice Chairman SMT Autar Pehsin said the yatra was a symbol of communal harmony and culture in Kashmir.