Unlike the highest footfall recorded by the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine here in Trikuta Hills of Katra town in Reasi district during the Navratri' festival, the shrine wore a deserted look on Wednesday amid the restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration had recently announced closure of the Vaishno Devi yatra and banned all interstate buses as part of the precautionary measures to arrest the spread of coronavirus.
The shrine authorities said only a few rituals are being observed at the temple.
This is for the first time that the city of temples, Jammu, looks disolate on the first day of Chaitra Navratri' with most of the temples shut.
"The annual mahayagya' continued at Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, apart from the ceremonies connected with Navratri, Chief Executive Officer, Shri Mata Vaishnodevi Shrine Board (SMDSV), Ramesh Kumar told PTI.
Usually, a crowd of around 40,000 to 50,000 people throng the holy shrine on the first day of Navratri.
"I used to visit the cave shrine every year on the first day of Navratri to seek Mata Vaishno Devi's blessing. Though I am disappointed that I could not visit the shrine this time, it is a necessity to close the shrine in the wake of COVID-19 threat, he said.
The shrine, however, has decided to telecast live the darshan' of Holy Pindis Maa Vaishno Devi daily.
"We have included a 2-minute darshan of holy pindis of Mata Vaishno Devi after conclusion of aarti' (prayer). This is being done to ensure that people get darshan of Mata in their homes during this Navratri, Kumar said.
Keeping with the Navratri tradition, people in Jammu are keeping nine-days fast and praying to Navdurga' to rid them off the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu conveyed his greetings to the people of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir on the auspicious occasion of Navratri and Navreh and prayed for their well-being and prosperity.
In his message, the Lt Governor expressed hope and prayed that the festival would become the harbinger of harmony, brotherhood, amity, peace, progress and prosperity in Jammu and Kashmir.
Murmu appealed to the people, including the devotees of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, to stay indoors and pray at home during this Navratri. PTI