By ARUN PRATAP SINGH
DEHRADUN, 26 Apr: For perhaps the first time, ever, the portals of Gangotri Dham and the Yamonotri Dham temples were opened for the new season without the usual presence of devotees and fanfare. With the state and the country currently facing a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no religious gatherings are being allowed across the country.
Due to the lockdown, worship took place with the prayers being offered before the portals were opened for the new season as per the mandated rituals, but with strict adherence to social distancing and mandated restrictions regarding religious gatherings currently in force.
Incidentally, today was also the day when the Doli of Baba Kedarnath left its winter abode at Omkareshwar Temple in Ukhimath for the Kedarnath Temple. The portals of Kedarnath are scheduled to be opened later this week.
Prior to the opening of the doors amid Vedic chants, Ganga Pujan was also performed. Ganga Sahastranaam was recited by the priests at the predetermined Muhurat – 12:35 p.m., as it was the Rohini Amrit Nakshatra Yoga, considered to be very auspicious. Today was Akshaya Tritiya, one of the most auspicious days for Hindus and Jains across the globe.
At the opening ceremony, social distancing was fully observed and everyone present wore masks as mandated under the lockdown protocol. While, usually, this is considered to be a very auspicious occasion for a very large number of the devotees to be present, this year, the gathering was completely missing for perhaps the first time in living memory.
The doors of the Yamunotri Dham were also opened sans any fanfare and without the presence of devotees at 12:41 p.m. amid Vedic chants and the mandated rituals.
It may be recalled that Goddess Yamuna’s Doli had left her winter sojourn in Kharsali at 8:15 a.m. today. The devotees were absent and only the bare minimum of the temple staff and the priests had the opportunity for darshan.
On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi donated Rs 1100 to the Sri Paanch Mandir Committee, Gangotri, and the first puja after the opening of the portals was offered to Ganga in the name of Modi. District Magistrate Ashish Chauhan disclosed that, in view of the Corona lockdown, no devotees were allowed at both the temples located in district Uttarkashi and all the priests and others present on the occasion had to undergo medical examination conducted by a medical team led by CMO Dr DP Joshi. Masks and sanitisers were also used on a mandatory basis during the rituals.