Jammu: The nine-day Navratra festival today
kicked off with a colourful start at Katra-the base camp for
holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi, 50 kms from here.
The festival, organised by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine
Board (SMVDSB) and tourism department in collaboration with
local organisations, was inaugurated by the Minister for
Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Raman Bhalla.
As a part of the inaugural ceremony, a magnificent shoba
yatra depicting the rich cultural heritage of the state amidst
spiritual ambience was taken out.
"The festival provides an opportunity to the visiting
pilgrims from across the country and abroad to have a glimpse
of our rich cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence of
people of different faiths," the minister said.
He added that all efforts were being made to create
additional infrastructural facilities at the holy town to meet
out increasing rush of the pilgrims effectively.
Pawan Kotwal, Chairman, Navratra festival committee said
he hoped that this year the number of pilgrims visiting the
shrine would cross last year`s record mark and reach 80 lakhs.
Around 60 lakh devotees have already paid obeisance till
now, which is 12 lakh more as compared to the corresponding
period of last year, he said.