'Commercialisation of God' annoys pilgrims at Vaishno Devi shrine

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Katra (Jammu and Kashmir), June 4 : Introduction of a new system of payment to bypass queues at Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu and Kashmir is annoying devotees who term the act as 'commercialisation of God'.

As soon as the news of special tickets ranging between Rs 200 to Rs 1000 became public, devotees, mainly from the lower strata of the society, raised their voice against the decision.

Devotees expressed their displeasure against the temple management.

"This decision will kill the element of devotion among the pilgrims. Till now, people used to come here to offer prayers with due respect. They will commercialise all that," said Suresh, a devotee.

"I feel that this is extremely bad. We have read in newspapers that the cost of a ticket would be 1000 rupees to 500 rupees," said Narender, another devotee.

The shrine that witnessed around 9.60 lakh pilgrims, a record number of pilgrims in the month of May are all set to differentiate between the pilgrims and divide them into the rich and the ordinary.

But the temple management officials justifying the new system said that the arrangement is for a very limited number of people who may not have time to wait in queue.

"This is for those devotees who do not have time but want to visit the shrine. We have kept a limited quota for them that is roughly about two to three per cent of the total visitors," said Monoj Kumar Divedi, Additional Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a Vaishno Devi Shrine Board.

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