Amid ‘Jai Mata Di’ chants nine-day Katra Fest takes off

GJ REPORT
KATRA, OCT 10: The nine-day long Navratra festival commenced here today, amid tight security arrangements in the town of Katra of Reasi district.
The annual Navratra Festival commenced with a ‘Shobha Yatra’ in the holy town of Katra located in the foothills of Trikuta Mountains.
The yatra was inaugurated by Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma who is also the Chairman of the Navratra Festival Committee. The Yatra started with Kanjak Poojan from Asia Chowk and passed through bus stand via main bazar.
The colourful ‘shobha yatra,’ comprising a large number of events like Gittdu, Lok Naritya, Kashmiri Naritya, Dogri Naritya, showcased the culture and tradition of the State. The presentation of local folk dance and music by artists of Regional Outreach Bureau (Ministry of Information & Broadcasting) and J&K Academy of Art culture and Languages was highly applauded by the participants.
Flowers from many countries were delivered to Katra for decorating the cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi.
Deputy Commissioner Reasi, Prasanna Ramaswamy G; Director Tourism, O P Bhagat; SSP Reasi, Nisha Nathyal; CEO KDA, Jagdish Mehra; Deputy Director Tourism, S K Attri; Additional Chief Executive Officer Shrine Board, Anshul Garg; GM JKTDC, Vinakshi Koul; SDM Katra, Ashok Kumar; representative of Regional Outreach Bureau, Durga Parkash and other senior officers accompanied the Div Com during the yatra.
The shoba yatra culminated at bus stand Katra where the main function was organised. The Div Com along with other guests lighted the traditional lamp.
The festival will be marked by various events like Shobha Yatras, cultural programmes, Devotional Songs Competition, religious discourses, International Wrestling Competition and many more, for which various organizational sub-committees have been constituted to make this event a grand success.
Extending greetings to the people, the Div Com said this annual festival provides an opportunity to the devotees to have a glimpse of rich cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence of people of different faiths in the region. “The festival has a special significance as the sacred shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi attracts a large number of pilgrims from within and outside the country during these days,” he said.
While appreciating every stakeholder associated with the festival, he hoped that the festival would gain new heights in the days to come.
Appreciating the people of Katra for their untiring efforts in creating facilities for the pilgrims, the Div Com said that the town has achieved manifold development over the years with the blessing of the Goddess.
He also appreciated Municipal Committee for the sceneries and images depicting the rich folk culture painted around the town.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Director Tourism, O P Bhagat said the festival would help in attracting more and more pilgrims to the shrine and it is expected that their number would cross the last year’s record mark. The festival would also help in diverting a large number of pilgrims to other important pilgrim and tourist destinations in the area, he added and informed about the activities being organised to celebrate the Navratra Festival.
Tight security arrangements have been put in place and the (CRPF) have increased vigil at Katra and the route leading to the shrine.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board and the J&K Tourism Department have made extensive arrangements for Navaratras.
The track leading to the shrine has adequate water, power supply and proper sanitation facility. Further, special eatables for the ones fasting will be available at the bhojanalayas (eateries) of the shrine board.
Meanwhile, huge rush of devotees also thronged the famous Kali Temple here on Wednesday morning, commonly known as the ‘Bawe Wali Mata’ temple.
Devotees formed long queues to pay obeisance at the temple, early in the morning.
Meanwhile, additional check points have been raised and security has been beefed up across the region so that the celebrations are carried out in a peaceful manner.