Amarnath pilgrimage: Holy mace leaves for cave shrine

August 11th, 2008 - 1:29 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Srinagar, Aug 11 (IANS) Amid a dragging controversy over a plot of forest land involving the management board of the Amarnath shrine, the traditional journey of Lord Shiva’s holy mace began from its seat here Monday towards the cave temple in south Kashmir Himalayas. Nearly 200 devotees led by Swami Dipinder Giri, the custodian of the holy mace, offered special prayers inside Dashnami Akhara temple near city centre Lal Chowk marking the beginning of the conclusion of the two-month-long annual Hindu pilgrimage.

They then took the holy mace, commonly called “chhari mubarak”, in a procession towards the Pahalgam base camp in south Kashmir.

“Today (MOnday) the traditional journey of Lord Shiva’s holy mace towards the cave shrine started from here. I have around 200 devotees (with me) and more are likely to join us from Pahalgam for onward journey to the cave,” Giri told IANS.

The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the 3,888-metre-high cave shrine has been at the heart of the land row controversy, which created an unprecedented communal wedge between the Muslim-majority Kashmir valley and Hindu-dominated Jammu plains.

The more than five-week violent campaign over the plot that was marked for the Amarnath shrine board has claimed at least 15 lives. Following protests in the Kashmir valley, the land allotment was cancelled July 1, sparking violent reactions in Jammu.

Giri appealed that the pilgrimage be performed in its true religious spirit and no politics should be allowed in the name of the pilgrimage.

“It is a purely religious affair and trying to do politics in the name of Lord Shiva is unfortunate,” he said.

Giri was a member of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) headed by the then state governor S.K. Sinha till 2006.

“I resigned from the SASB in 2006 when attempts were made to artificially tamper with the holy Lingam by the then management of the shrine board,” he told IANS.

The two-month long pilgrimage to the high altitude temple will conclude on the night of Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan on Aug 16, when the final prayers will be offered inside the cave shrine after the arrival of the holy mace there.

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