Navratra at Vaishno Devi shrine in Kashmir

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Katra (J-K), Mar 28 (ANI): Devotees offered evening prayers at the famous shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi as the nine-day Hindu festival of "Navratri" beganith religious fervour on Friday.

Nestling amidst Trikuta hills in the Himalayas, the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine and the base camp, the temple town of Katra in the foothills, present a festive look these days.

Thousands of devotees are pouring in from across the country to undertake a pilgrimage to the shrine during the Navratra festival.

Continuing for over a century, the festival was declared official by the Jammu and Kashmir Government 12 years ago, with an objective of projecting the rich culture and heritage of the region.

To seek the blessings of the Divine Mother in her three manifestations of Maha Saraswati, Maha Kali and Maha Lakshmi, over 6.5 million pilgrims visit the shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi every year.

Chaitra Navratri is most famous in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and in other parts of North India.

Temporary stalls are set up by the road side or near the temples selling traditional goods for the festival such as diyas of all sizes, coconuts, clay pottery (matkas), dupattas for women, wrist-bands, special garlands made of marigold and other flowers, beads, and agarbatti sticks.

Chaitra Navratra is known by different names like Ram Navratri, Vasant Navratri, Basant Navrathri and some people also refer it as Spring Navaratras. By Tahir Nadeem Khan (ANI)

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