Navratra Festival 2011 inaugurated at Katra
Katra (Jammu) September 28 - The 8-day Navrata Festival-2011 took to a colorful start with Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Pawan Kotwal inaugurating the mega event at Katra, the base camp of the holy cave shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji, by lighting the sacred Jyoti here on Wednesday.
The Navratra festival, 16th in the series, is being organized by Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) and Tourism Department in collaboration with the District Administration, Reasi and local organizations.
As a part of the inaugural ceremony, a colourful Shobha Yatra depicting rich cultural heritage of the state was taken out from Asia Crossing to bus stand. The procession comprised of a large number of pilgrims from across the country and abroad, school children, cultural troupes and tableau.
Extending greetings to the people in general and pilgrims in particular on holy Navratras, the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu who is also the Chairman of Navratra Festival Celebration Committee, said that the Navratra festival Katra is gaining new heights after every passing year. The Festival provides an opportunity to the visiting yatris from various corners of the country and abroad to have a glimpse of our rich cultural heritage and peaceful co-existence of people of different faiths who live here like brothers.
Dr Kotwal said the Navratras have a special significance as the sacred Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji attracts a huge number of pilgrims within and outside the country. With the increasing influx of yatris, efforts are being made to upgrade the basic facilities for visiting pilgrims and local populace of Katra, he said and added that recently sanctioned water supply scheme for the Katra town is a step forward in this direction. He hoped that with the active cooperation of the local organizations and people of the Katra town, the festival would be a great success.
Additional Chief Executive Officer, SMVDSB, Katra, Dr. M.K. Bhandari while speaking on the occasion, lauded the vigorous efforts of local people in extending every help for making the annual event a grand success. He hoped that the number of devotees would cross last year's record mark and expected to reach one crore this year, adding that the yatra has shown an increase of 11 lakh till date from the corresponding period of last year. He said that Navratra Festival would go a long way in attracting the pilgrims from different locations of the country and abroad to the holy cave shrine and further help in boosting pilgrim tourism in the state.
Deputy Commissioner Reasi, Mr. P.K. Pole also spoke on the occasion and complimented the people on the occasion of holy Navratras. He also whished every success to the members of the festival committee for successful conduct of this mega event of National importance.
As part of the festival, cultural procession will be taken out from Asia Chowk at 7 p.m., All India Devotional Song Competition will be held at Shri Yog Ashram Air Strip, Katra at 8 p.m. and cultural programme will be arranged by the Song and Drama Division at GHSS, Katra at 8.30 p.m. daily. Similarly religious discourses on the Ramayana and Bhagwat Gita will be held at Raghunath Mandir from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and International wrestling competition will be held at Multipurpose Sports Stadium, Katra on October, 02 from 2 pm to 6 p.m. Exhibition of Departmental stalls would be held at GHSS, Katra, Hasya Vyang competition from October 01 to October 03, 2011 at Durga Bhawan, Katra at 8.30 pm during the Navratra Festival. Cultural programme and awareness rallies would also be taken out by the school childrens during the festival.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Udhampur-Reasi Range, Mr. Jagjit Kumar, Director Tourism, Jammu, Mr. R.S. Mehta, SSP Reasi, K. R. Chourisa, Additional SP Katra, Mohan Lal, Joint Director Information, Jammu, Soujanya Sharma, Dy. CEO SMVDSB Katra, Mr. Rash Paul Singh, Deputy Director Tourism, Mr. Arvind Kotwal, senior officers of district administration, Ex- Minister, Jagjeevan Lal, members of Navratra Celebration Committee, Katra including Mr. Shyam Kesar, Mr. Rakesh Wazir Mr. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Mr. Surinder Khajuria, Mr. Sardari Lal Dubey, Mr. Ambrish Magotra, Mr. Verinder Kesar, Mr. R.S. Manhas, other members and prominent persons were present on the occasion.