Indian Devotees Throng Himachal Temples as Navratri Begins
An Indian devotee offers prayers on the first day of ‘Navratri’ at the Mata Longa Wali Devi temple in Amritsar on Oct. 7, 2021. (Narinder Nanu/AFP via Getty Images)
SHIMLA – Hundreds of devotees assembled in different parts of Himachal Pradesh Oct. 7 and offered prayers on the onset of the nine-day Navratri festival, considered an auspicious period by Hindus. But Covid-19 vaccination is a must for the devotees visiting the temples.
One of the busiest shrines in north India, the hilltop Naina Devi temple in Bilaspur district, saw a majority of pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.
The popular shrines of Chintpurni in Una district and Jwalaji and Brajeshwari Devi temples in Kangra district witnessed a huge rush.
“We are expecting a daily arrival of 25,000 to 30,000 devotees during the Navratri,” an official at the Naina Devi shrine told IANS over phone.
Officials said only those devotees who had the final vaccination certificate or RT-PCR negative report, not older than 72 hours, would be allowed to enter the temples across the state.
Devotees would be able to watch online live “darshan” of Brajeshwari Devi, Naina Devi, Chintpurni and Jwalaji temples. They would also be able to offer online offerings.
Security has been beefed up and closed circuit television cameras have been installed to manage the crowd in all the prominent shrines, a senior police official told IANS.
The festival will conclude on Oct. 15.