The holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is all prepared to welcome devotees from across the world for the nine-day Navratra festival, which is commencing on Monday and will culminate on October 4, 2022.
Over three lakh pilgrims from across the country and abroad are expected to visit the shrine during Sharad Navratras in the cave shrine nestled atop Trikuta hills in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) - a body managing day-to-day affairs of the shrine, has made all necessary arrangements including security to meet the rush of pilgrims.
Every year, around one crore pilgrims from all over the country and abroad pay obeisance at Shri Mata Vaishno Devi cave Shrine situated in Trikuta Hills at Katra base camp in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.
First-time RFID cards mandatory for devotees
To monitor the movement and numbers of devotees visiting the cave shrine, the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVSDB) has introduced the Radio Frequency Identity Card (RIFD). The RFID facility has replaced the existing ongoing Yatra slip format.
RFID is based on a wireless technology used for tracking through radio waves. The tags can carry encrypted information, serial numbers, and short descriptions.
The RIFD system is introduced to keep track of pilgrims, especially those who go missing or separate from groups or families at the time of rush.
Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, who is also the chairman of the shrine board, on August 31 rolled out an RFID system for the pilgrims.
Online registration also mandatory for Yatra
To regulate the rush of the devotees performing the pilgrimage of Mata Vaishno Devi, authorities have already closed all booking counters of "Yatra slips" after making online registration mandatory to proceed towards Bhawan from Katra.
The decision to close all registration counters were taken after the first-ever stampede at Bhawan of the cave shrine on January 1, 2022, in which 12 devotees were killed and 15 others injured. It was already decided that pilgrims who have online registration would be allowed to perform Yatra beyond the Ban-Ganga entrance gate.
Reports said that Shrine Board has set up two control rooms and installed 120 CCTV cameras along the track and the Bhawan (sanctum sanctorum) to ensure the Yatra is regulated in a better way.
Free horses, and battery car services for physically challenged devotees.
First-time the SMVDSB has announced that physically challenged devotees will be provided horses and battery car service free of cost to make it easy for them to offer prayers at the shrine.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SMVDSB, Anshul Garh has already made an announcement in this regard.
"This is another new initiative of the shrine board and help desks have been set up for the convenience of persons with special needs. They will also be given priority for darshan at the Bhawan", Garg said while announcing free services to physically challenged devotees.
As per directions of Hon'ble Chairman Sh @manojsinha_ , Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board to assist Divyang pilgrims with free Pony & Battery Car Services and Priority Darshans during #Navratri; Dedicated helpdesk (9906019494, 01991-234804) set up for facilitation. #JaiMataDi https://t.co/GNX8WmqROn— Anshul Garg (@hello_anshul) September 24, 2022
The tourism department in collaboration with SMVDSB and divisional administration is organizing various events during the festival.
A total of 14 different activities will be organized in Katra from September 26 to October 4.
Noteworthy congregational programmes like 'Prabhat Pheris', 'Mata ki Kahani' recitation, Devotional Song Competition, Dangal, and other cultural items, besides, Gharwa Night event will be organized to add diverse dimensions to the religious cum cultural event.