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Vaishno Devi temple ready to welcome pilgrims for 'Navratri' celebrations under COVID-19 shadow

JAMMU: Adorned with thousands of multi-hued flowers, the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi here is all set to welcome pilgrims from Tuesday for the nine-day celebrations of ''Navratri'' under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flowers like roses, Dahlias, orchids and marigolds have been used to deck up the shrine nestled in Trikuta hills, officials said.

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) has made elaborate arrangements to facilitate the pilgrims who are likely to visit the cave shrine during ''Navratri'', they said.

SMVDSB CEO Ramesh Kumar on Monday reviewed arrangements made at Bhawan and other locations for pilgrims, they added.

Kumar also took stock of the arrangements at yatra registration counters in Katra, Darshani Deodi, Banganga, Adhkuwari, Tarakote Marg, Sanjichhat, Himkoti Marg, Bhawan, Bhairon Complex and at other locations from Katra to Bhawan with other officers, concerned engineers as well as area and unit heads of the board, the officials said.

Arrangements have been made to ensure round-the-clock water and power supply all along the tracks leading to the shrine, sanitisation, medicare and availability of special "fast-related" food at the catering outlets of the SMVDSB.

Kumar also reviewed the arrangements put in place for ensuring strict enforcement of all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines.

Giving further details of the arrangements, Kumar said Bhawan, Atka and the area surrounding them have been beautifully decorated with exquisite flowers.

Bhawan has also been decked up with attractive and colourful lights, he said.

As was done during last year''s ''Shardiya Navratri'', there will be ''bhajan'' and ''bhaint'' performances by the renowned artistes during morning and evening Atka aarti.

Arrangements have also been made for a ''Shat Chandi Maha Yagya'' at the shrine for peace, prosperity and good health of mankind, the officials said.

The ''yagya'' will be telecast live from 10.30 AM to 12 noon every day during the festival.

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