With the approval for the reopening of religious shrines from the Government of India during its first phase of unlocking (Unlock 1.0), many famous temples in India have opened their gates for visitors following the safety guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. The popular pilgrimage ‘Maa Vaishno Devi Yatra,’ which has been suspended since 18th March due to COVID-19 lockdown, might soon be resumed.
The Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for Vaishno Devi Yatra is almost prepared by The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB). It is said that the Yatra to this cave temple will initially be opened only for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and later will allow all the devotees across the country.
However, the Shrine board might permit only 5000 to 7000 devotees every day for the darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi. It requires pre-registration online, unlike the earlier method of registration upon reaching Katra. After the thermal screening at the Katra trek entry point, the pilgrims would be divided into groups (as a precautionary measure to maintain social distance), and each group would be led forward for the darshan.
Children less than 3-year-old and senior citizens above 65 years will not be allowed for the Vaishno Devi Yatra. Visitors might also be asked to provide the COVID-19 test certificates. A thorough health check-up will follow in case any pilgrim has symptoms of coronavirus. Using a face mask is mandatory. For hand hygiene purposes, sanitizers will also be made available in every place.
Nestled in the Trikuta hills at Reasi district in Jammu and Kashmir, Maa Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the 108 Shakti Peethas in India that is estimated to be visited by nearly 8 million pilgrims every year.