The month of ‘Shraavana’ has begun and Kanwarias are ready for Kanwar Yatra— the annual pilgrimage of devotees of Lord Shiva, which began on Monday and will conclude on August 7. Hindu pilgrimage places including Sultanganj in Bihar, Haridwar, Gangotri and Gaumukh in Uttarakhand, Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi are the famous places which see a huge crowd during the month (July-August). Millions of Kanwarias from different states in India visit these places carrying ‘Kanwars’ on their shoulders, wearing orange dresses and walking hundreds of miles barefoot to bathe the ‘Shivaling’. The devotees go a long way to fetch ‘Ganga Jal’ to offer it to Lord Shiva.
Last year, the pilgrimage had begun on July 20. It is scheduled to begin on July 28 next year, according to the Gregorian calendar. Until the 1980s, this Yatra used to be undertaken by a few saints and some older devotees only.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath held a meeting over the preparations for the pilgrimage and directed officials to provide better facilities to the Kanwarias. Facilities include supplying drinking water through tankers and hand pumps, setting up of medical camps equipped with ambulances and toilets on the route. The officials were also asked to check the availability of lights on roads and repairing the damaged roads so that accidents could be prevented and devotees would not have to face inconvenience while walking barefoot. He also directed them to set up separate camps for women devotees and install CCTV cameras in areas with mixed population.
The chief minister also asked the devotees participating in the Kanwar yatra not to play “vulgar” film songs.
Here is all that you need to know about the Shraavana month and Kanwar Yatra:
Intelligence agencies are taking all possible measures to safegaurd pilgrims after recieving intel that an attack is imminent. The UP police has been alerted about the same, according to a report in IANS. Police officials will also be frisking people gathered in large numbers, the news agency said.
The Yatra will be kept under tight vigil with the help of drones, the report said, adding that prohibitory orders under Section 144 have been put in place across all districts and towns along the route of the Kanwarias. Kanwarias have been warned against shifting their routes.
These measures have been ordered in view of incidents of vandalism and hooliganism caused by Kanwarias in the past. The Yatra has also been reported to have caused traffic jams, especially on the NH-24, between Ghaziabad and New Delhi. Traffic police has also deployed extra personnel to man traffic.
New guidelines, rules:
Issuing guidelines for the Yatra, the government has said that it is mandatory for all Kanwarias to valid carry ID cards, such as voter ID, driving licence or Aadhar Card, to be presented at the time of routine checking. The administration has also reportedly asked the yatris to refrain from playing offensive or vulgar songs which might hurt the sentiments of other communities or religions.
DJ systems during Kanwaria processions have been banned as well. The administration has said that loud speakers are not to be played from 10 in the night to 6 in the morning and prior permission is required for their use in the day time.
In addition to this, yatris have also been disallowed from carrying hockey sticks and tridents more than six inches tall.
The Delhi Traffic Police has issued a traffic advisory for main routes the Kanwarias are expected to take. The advisory states that Kanwarias will be carrying smaller processions in many other place in Delhi. The Traffic Police has warned the Kanwarias that all traffic violators will be prosecuted.