Conducted for the first time in the absence of devotees, the Shiva shrine in Kedarnath Dham opened as per schedule to perform the ‘abhiskek‘ and ‘arati‘ even amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Only 16 people, including the priest Shiv Shankar Ling, attended the ceremony at dawn since no one was allowed to visit the temple following the coronavirus outbreak. Also Read - India Records Highest Ever 4,205 Deaths in 24 Hours, 3.48 Lakh Cases in a Day

In his tweet on Wednesday morning, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, “The doors of Kedarnath Dham have opened today. My wishes and congratulations to all of the devotees. I wish that we would always continue to get the blessings of Shri Kedarnathji. The doors have been opened only to a limited numbers due to the coronavirus. May Lord Kedarnath make us capable of fighting this pandemic. May all devotees of Lord Shiva be healthy, happy and may the god bless the entire world.” Also Read - Pappu Yadav, At The Forefront in Fight Against Covid, Sent To 14-Day Judicial Custody

Decorated with 10 quintal of marigold, rose and other flowers by Satish Kalra, the donor from Rishikesh, the temple is still covered with four to six feet layer of snow. The army band did not join the door opening ceremony unlike the previous years at Kedarnath Dham.

In an interview with IANS, Harish Gaur, media in-charge of Devasthanam Board, revealed, “Keeping in mind the social distancing norms, Shivshankar Linga performed the ‘Jalabhisheka’ of Lord Kedarnath. After the opening of the doors, the first Rudrabhishek Pooja was performed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In view of the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, a limited number of board personnel, Hakukdhari Tirtha Purohit and people of administration have been allowed to visit the Kedarnath Dham.”