Hindu holy men want prayers in Kedarnath shrine

Haridwar, June 26 (IANS) Even as security forces are still trying to save the stranded in Uttarakhand’s hills, Hindu holy men are desperate to go to the revered Kedarnath shrine to conduct prayers.

The Shankracharya of Dwarka Sharda peeth, Swami Swaroopnand Saraswati, wants permission from the Uttarakhand government to proceed to the ravaged shrine area for the traditional ‘pooja archana’.

Saraswati, after meeting holy men at Kankhal here Tuesday evening, urged Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to let them proceed to Kedarnath, a highly revered shrine that suffered damage in the natural disaster over 10 days ago.

He has protested against the beginning of prayers of Kedarnath Mahadev at Ukhimath, the seat of the deity during winter months.

“There is no provision for moving out Lord Shiva to any other place during summer,” a holy man told IANS.

The deity of Kedarnath was spritually moved to Ukhimath for prayers and other religious rituals Monday following the closure of the shrine and the sanctum sanctorum after mounds of mud buried the whole place.

At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of

Lord Shiva is carried down from Kedarnath to Ukhimath. It is reinstated at Kedarnath in the first week of May.

It is at this time that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock in hundreds of thousands from all parts of India for pilgrimage.

The shrine closes on the first day of Kartik (October-November) and reopens in Vaishakh (April-May) every year.

During its closure, the shrine is submerged in snow and worship is done at Ukhimath. This year, the Kedarnath pilgrimage began May 14.

Prominent Hindu holy men like Jagadguru Ramanandcharya Hansdevacharya,

Mahamadaleshwar Harichetnand, Ramanand Puri, Ravindra Puri, Shridharanand, Rishishawarand, Baba Hathyogi Digambar and Avimukteshwarand have extended support to Swaroopanand’s bid to proceed to Kedarnath, located 11,755 feet above sea level in the Rudraprayag mountain range.

A spokesman for the holy men told IANS that they were of the view that the cleaning up of the shrine should be undertaken by Hindu saints, none else.

The holy men have also taken strong objection to the photography of the ‘garbh grih’ of the Kedarnath shrine.

“Never in the history of Kedarnath has the shrine been clicked from inside. It is objectionable, a sacrilege,” said Pandit Ashok Upadhyaya, a religious and spiritual leader.

The holy men are also upset that hundreds of people, including those involved in rescue work, were entering the shrine and the ‘samadhi’ of the Shankracharya with shoes.

The steps leading to the 1,000 year old temple, housing the highest of

the 12 Jyotirlingas, have turned into rubble, according to officials.

These steps, carved out of stone, had inscriptions in Pali and had great

archaeological and spiritual value.

The walls inside the sanctum are intact and the silver ‘chatra’ and the trident and ‘nandi’ statue both inside and outside the temple are surprisingly intact.

Witnesses have told officials that at the time of the cloudburst and when boulders and water flowed down menacingly, a huge rock settled behind the temple, saving it from deadly wrath as water got bifurcated to both sides.

More than 120 bodies are said to be strewn around the temple premises. Most were killed in the cloudburst and floods June 15.

(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at [email protected])

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