Remember, there was a time when the Char Dham Yatra used to be an uphill task? People would have to undertake long and arduous journies, and this is what made the pilgrimage special.
Fast forward to 2022 and we realise that the Char Dham Yatra including the journey to the Kedarnath shrine has become one of the many ‘trips’ on an average tourist’s bucket list. However, let’s not forget that Kedarnath is not some picnic spot but a pilgrimage site.
A pet dog at Kedarnath
Recently, the video of a Noida vlogger went viral on the internet. The vlogger took along his pet dog to Kedarnath and got a priest to put a vermillion tilak on him.
A video of the pet dog touching the Nandi idol with its paw has been doing the rounds on the internet. It has drawn the ire of the Badrinath-Kedarnath Temple Committee.
Meanwhile, TOI quoted a senior police officer as saying, “YouTubers and vloggers thronging the temples often cause difficulties in security arrangements. They stop in the middle of trek routes and start shooting reels, disrupting the journey of other pilgrims. They clearly have nothing to do with devotion. That said, it is up to the BKTC to take action against them.”
Kedarnath being reduced to a weekend getaway
However, the recent controversy is just the tip of the iceberg. The main issue is that Kedarnath pilgrimage site is being reduced to another weekend getaway just like ordinary hill stations in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
For some, it is about escaping the scorching North Indian summers, for others, it is about escaping the hustle-bustle of urban life and still for some other groups, it is all about partying on a group trip. At the end of the day, it is the pious character and the purity of the shrine that gets compromised.
Read more: Thanks to the dedicated efforts of PM Modi, Kedarnath Mandir regains its former glory
Recently, some shocking images revealed that garbage and plastic waste is piling up around Kedarnath. ANI tweeted, “Heaps of plastic waste and garbage pile up on the stretch leading to Kedarnath, as devotees throng for Char Dham Yatra.”
The agency quoted Prof MS Negi Head, Department of Geography, Garhwal Central University, as saying, “The way plastic garbage has piled up in a sensitive place like Kedarnath is hazardous for our ecology. It’ll lead to erosion which can cause landslides. We must keep in mind the tragedy of 2013 & remain careful.”
Let the teerth remain a teerth
In Hindu tradition, teerth is all about the purity of soul and body. You are supposed to take pains to travel to an ancient sacred institutions, including the ones located in extremely remote areas like Badrinath and Kedarnath. And it is nothing about leisure or merrymaking.
Read more: The holy concept of Teerth is being violated
The more important issue here is inviolable devotion to the pilgrimage site. This is actually what makes a teerth a teerth. You have to treat the shrine as a sacred institution. You simply cannot treat it with disdain and violate the ecology of the surrounding region when you are approaching the abode of a deity.
Make no mistake, Kedarnath is a pilgrimage site at the end of the day. And we hope, it remains a pilgrimage site only instead of becoming a tourist hub.