Annual pilgrimage of Amarnath Yatra for the year 2011 will begin on June 29, 2011 (Jaishth Purnima) instead of June 15, 2011 and will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan). Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has decided to reduce the duration of Amarnath Yatra by 14 days i.e. from 60 days it has been reduced to 46 days. The decision to reduce the duration has been taken keeping in mind the security of the pilgrims, convenience of the pilgrims and the climatic conditions as well.
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In a bid to satisfy certain quarters, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) said today that it had reduced the duration of the annual Amarnath pilgrimage from 60 to 46 days in the interest of the pilgrims and the organizers of the community kitchens en route the cave shrine.
This year, the yatra will start on June 29 instead of June 15, that is Jaishth Purnima, and will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan).
However, the SASB said if religious and social leaders across the country desired a change in the yatra duration, the board could review the decision, but from Shravan Purnima onwards. The SASB, giving statistics about the duration of the pilgrimage and the number of pilgrims visiting the cave shrine from 1995 to 2010, said the decision to curtail the pilgrimage to 46 days this year was taken keeping in view the safety of the pilgrims, smooth conduct of the pilgrimage and convenience of the pilgrims and the organizers of community kitchens.
Addressing media persons here this evening, SASB member Ved Ghai said the safety and security of the pilgrims was of paramount importance and hence the decision was taken after extensive discussions at a board meeting on February 18.
“Reducing the duration and changing the date of the commencement of the yatra will not impact the number of pilgrims, as the maximum number of pilgrims visit the cave shrine in the first 30 days,” said Ghai. The board’s decision to curtail the annual pilgrimage this year has come under criticism from some organizations.
“If religious leaders across the country evolve consensus on extending the duration of the pilgrimage from Shravan Purnima onwards, I don’t think the board will have any problem,” she said.
Though natural calamities could not be forecast, at the same time we did not want to play with nature, she said and recalled how 243 pilgrims lost their lives due to harsh climatic change in 1996.
The Nitish Sen Gupta Committee report also concluded that the period of the pilgrimage should be spread over 30 days, from roughly July 1 to August 15, she said.
As regards to duration and schedule of the yatra it was necessary to note that the climate pattern and the extent of snowfall during the preceding winter had a direct bearing on the dates on which both yatra routes were likely to become operational in the succeeding summer, Ghai said.
The board, being an amalgam of spiritual, religious and social figures, took into consideration all pros and cons before arriving at the decision to restrict the pilgrimage to 46 days, she added.
Meanwhile, Shri Amarnath Barfani Langars Organisation, an association of NGOs organizing community kitchens during the pilgrimage, expressed gratitude to the SASB for reducing the yatra duration from 60 days to 46 days this year. The organization also urged the SASB to reduce the yatra duration to one month next year.
Source: Amarnath yatra duration reduced to 46 days