Srinagar: After Shab-e-Mehraj, the festivities of Shab-e-Baraat were also not held at Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar on Wednesday evening due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was only for the second time in history that the shrine had seen no celebrations on Shab-e-Baraat.
Last month, the Shab-e-Mehraj had not been held at Hazratbal as no gatherings and display of holy relics was allowed by the district administration in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. The authorities had imposed curbs and sealed off the entire area to restrict public movement and prevent gatherings at the shrine.
Similarly, the district administration of Srinagar on Tuesday issued an order prohibiting all religious congregations in Hazratbal and other mosques and shrines on the occasion of Shab-e-Baraat.
The order stated that restrictions will remain enforced through the intervening night of April 8 and 9, adding that violations will attract strict action under Section 188 of the IPC and Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act.
Following the orders, strict restrictions were put in place across Srinagar city especially near Hazratbal. All the entry and exit points leading to the shrine were sealed on Tuesday evening itself.
It was only for the second time in history that both the prime religious occasions, Shab-e-Baraat as well as Shab-e-Mehraj, were not celebrated at Hazratbal. The last time it happened was in 1993, 27 years ago, when militants had occupied the shrine.
Usually lit up with colorful lights on the night of Shab-e-Baraat, the Hazratbal shrine stayed dark and desolate, making some devotees rather upset. People said that they cherished the moments spent at the shrine on Shab-e-Baraat. On such occasions, the roads leading to Hazratbal shrine would witness huge traffic jams, while the district administration used to devise a route plan for devotees from different areas to prevent traffic jams.
Masood-ul-Haq, administrator of the shrine, said, “The shrine is locked, all the doors are shut. The ways leading to the shrine have been sealed. No devotee was present in the shrine on eve of Shab-e-Baraat.”
“We had witnessed it on Shab-e-Meraj few days back, we are witnessing it yet again today. This is totally sad for all of us”, he added.
On this day, thousands of devotees would throng to Hazratbal shrine for night- long prayers, followed by displaying of holy relics later in the day. But, nothing out of this could be possible, due to the potential threat of COVID-19 in Kashmir valley, which has claimed three lives while positive cases have crossed 100 mark so far and continue to surge.
Shab-e-Baraat is usually observed on the 15th of Shaba’an month in the Islamic calendar, the celebrations are done in the intervening night of 14th and 15th Shabaan. The biggest congregation is witnessed at Hazratbal shrine, followed by Kabamarg shrine in Anantnag where thousands of devotees assemble to have a glimpse of holy relics. However, none of the places witnessed any sort of gatherings on the occasion likewise Shab-e-Meraj lately.