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Longest ever Amarnath Yatra culminates with final rituals at Himalayan cave shrine

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Mahant Deependra Giri, the custodian of Chhari Mubarak or Silver mace, led the final puja at the cave shrine of Amarnath on Thursday in Kashmir Himalayas, culminating the longest-ever yatra.

The 62-day-long Amarnath Yatra commenced on July 1 and till August 22 more than 4.70 lakh people paid obeisance at the holy cave. Last year a total of over three lakh pilgrims took part in the Yata. This year a good number of foreign devotees also made it to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath.

Special worship of the sacred mace of Lord Shiva, popularly known as Chhari Mubarak, was performed at the Holy Cave on Thursday.

Mahant Deependra Giri, accompanied by a group of monks and officials, led the Chhari Mubarak and reached the holy cave shrine of lord Shiva for the final pooja, coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan, marking the formal end of this year’s Amarnath Yatra.

“Chhari Mubarak reached Panjtarni yesterday for the night halt and left for the cave shrine early today for the final rituals with the commencement of Purnima appearing with the rise of sun on Thursday”, Giri said in a communiqué.

He said the pooja started at the Cave shrine on Thursday morning and lasted for two hours on the occasion of Shravan Purnima.

The pooja was started with Vedic hymns as per the age old traditions to bring the holy mace, one of Lord Shiva and another of Goddess Parvati, to the holy shrine of Swami Amarnath situated at 13,500 feet above sea level in Kashmir Himalayas.

He said “everything went well and the pooja is still on and we intend to start to return to Panjtarni within two hours from now”, he added.

This year the administration made unprecedented arrangements for the devotees on both sides of the Yatra routes and the Yatra passed off peacefully.

Thousands of security personnel from Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other agencies were deployed all along the route of pilgrimage from Jammu to the cave shrine with choppers and drones monitoring the movement of the cavalcade of pilgrims.

The authorities had on August 23 suspended the yatra temporarily amid low footfall of the pilgrims and to undertake the necessary repairs of the twin routes of the pilgrimage. UNI QAB SSP

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