Srinagar: The opening of religious places, especially shrines in Kashmir after nearly five months on Sunday, brought many people out of their homes and into the hallowed grounds where the valley’s most famous and beloved saints and sages are memorialised.
The most eminent shrines in Srinagar city, the Dargah Hazratbal, Dastgeer Sahib, Khanqah-e-Moula, and Makhdoom Sahib finally ended a long silence by calling for prayers early in the morning.
A good number of devotees were seen during the day visiting these shrines and paying obeisance. Most of the devotees followed strictly the precautions related to Covid-19, maintaining social distance inside the shrines and wearing face masks.
During prayers, too, the people were seen practising social distancing to prevent the transmission of infection.
For months the pandemic has caused uncertainty and distress in people’s lives and livelihood, so the opening of shrines became an occasion for respite and the seeking of blessings and refuge at such places.
“We are extremely thankful to Almighty that we’ve finally witnessed the opening of shrines. It has been so long, but ultimately it has happened. We’ll prostrate and pray to be saved from this deadly virus, and we’re hopeful that it will end soon,” said Ghulam Mohammad, a devotee.
Devotees who visited various shrines on Sunday expressed happiness, and hope that their prayers will be answered and sufferings eased.
“We’re happy that we have finally been able to visit the shrines amid this pandemic. All our hopes were pinned on such shrines. We seek blessings here and all prayers we offer here get fulfilled,” said a lady in her 70s.
All the religious places in Srinagar, especially shrines, buzzed all day with a considerable number of people.
The J&K government has allowed all religious places to open as per routine, but processions and gatherings still remain strictly prohibited.
The Government of India had allowed the resumption of religious activities under Unlock-1 phase back in June, but its implementation was subject to the call taken by States/UTs in this regard. In J&K, no decision had been taken about reopening religious places till August this month. It was in the first week of August that the administration announced to open religious places for worship after August 15.