Srinagar, Aug.15 (ANI): Pilgrims bound for the holy Amarnath cave shrine in Kashmir performed a traditional ritual of carrying 'Charri Mubarak' (the holy mace of Lord Shiva) from here on Saturday.
Charri Mubarak is the final ritual performed before the conclusion of annual Amarnath Yatra.
The Amarnath shrine that is devoted to Lord Shiva, lies 3,800 metres (12,725 ft) above sea level in the Himalayan range, where pilgrims worship an ice stalagmite which gains a shape of-the Shivling, the holy phallic symbol of Lord Shiva.
Besides the priests of the shrine, sages, holymen and several pilgrims carry this holy mace every year during the Amarnath Yatra.
Mahant Deependra Giri, the head priest of the ancient Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar, performed the rituals amidst chanting of Vedic hymns.
"Today is the day when, before moving on towards the main journey, we perform this grand ritual. When the situation was calm in the valley we would perform the ritual and move on side by side. From Durganag, first destination would be Pampore, ........., then moving on from Anantnag, next night at Martand, then rest for two nights, then ........., after that two nights at Pahalgam. After Pahalgam, a night at Chandanwari, then Sheshnag, then we will go to Panchtarni. After taking one-day rest there, on the Shravan Purnima day, which is on August 24 this year, we will take the holy Chhari Mubarak there," said Giri.
On the occasion, he appealed for peace in the turbulent Himalayan region.
"The situation in the valley and the incidents in the recent past are very sad. I appeal to the children, brothers and sisters of the valley that they should deal with the situation with peace and patience because we cannot find a solution for such a problem in just two or three days. So, every side should take things calmly. I think the political parties and the social organizations and most importantly the religious leaders have an important role to play. They should, this time, act as an inspiration," said Giri.
Legend has it that a Muslim shepherd, Adam Malik, discovered the cave more than four centuries ago. His descendants still receive a share of the cash and other offerings made by devotees at the cave.
The annual pilgrimage that started in June will come to an end on the Raksha Bandhan, full moon day on August 24, when the main rituals will be held inside the cave shrine.
After the rituals at Amarnath, the 'Chhari Mubarak' will be brought back to the Shankaracharya Temple where it will remain till the pilgrimage next year. By Parvez Butt (ANI)