Portals of Kedarnath temple open after six month hiatus; out of bounds for pilgrims amid COVID-19 pandemic
File Photo/PTI

The portals of Kedarnath opened on Monday after a six-month winter break with a select few people attending the temple's opening ceremony amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first puja was held by priests on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the gates of the famous Himalayan temple were opened at 5 am, a Chardham Devasthanam Board official said.

It is for the second consecutive year that COVID has cast a shadow on the pilgrimage to the temple which has been kept out of bounds for pilgrims in view of rising coronavirus cases. A limited number of temple priests, including Rawal Bhim Shankar Ling and Chief Priest Bagesh Ling, and officials of the administration and Devasthanam Board attended the ceremony.

Expressing happiness at the opening of the temple, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat prayed for the welfare and good health of the people. The yatra to the temple is temporarily suspended for the sake of people's safety, Rawat said, asking people to have virtual "darshan" of Baba Kedar and perform puja at home.

Tourism Minister Satpal Maharaj said Chardham Yatra will be started soon after the coronavirus pandemic subsides. The temple was decorated with eleven quintals of flowers on the occasion, the Devasthan Board officials said.

COVID norms like wearing masks and social distancing were strictly followed by those attending the event, he said. While Yamunotri and Gangotri temples were opened on May 14 and May 15 respectively, Badrinath will open on Tuesday for the priests to perform regular prayers. However, no pilgrims will be allowed to visit any of these temples till further orders in view of the COVID surge.

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