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The holy month of Ramadan comes to an end with the celebration of Eid around the world. However, many Muslims found themselves quarantined, at unexpected places, due to the pandemic this year. Aashirwad Bhawan in Katra is one such centre housing the community, but celebrations continued as the Vaishno Devi Shrine prepared Sehri and Iftari to commemorate the festivities. By Manya Saini

Communal harmony and lending a helping hand to one another, on account of shared humanity, was epitomised yesterday when the Hindu pilgrimage of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine provided sehri and iftari to 500 Muslims quarantined in Katra’s Aashirwad Bhawan for the holy month of Ramadan.

 

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The shrine had undertaken the project of converting Aashirwad Bhawan into a quarantine centre in March amid state government directives to curb the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak. According to reports, Ramesh Kumar, the Chief executive officer of the board said that the shrine had been working overnight to ensure that Muslims in isolation receive sehri and iftari in the morning and evening.

The centre is being run by the shine, and people returning to Jammu and Kashmir from other states amid Coronavirus scare are being housed there. Migrant workers and labourers are the highest in number among those currently living in quarantine and are continuing to observe Ramadan rituals and fasting.

Apart from Aashirwad Bhawan, the shrine has also undertaken the responsibility of providing three meals to other government quarantine centres in the area. Katra is located approximately 40 km from Udhampur, where the special Shramik Trains and buses are returning from different parts of the country.

 

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The shrine has spent an estimated INR 80 lakh since the announcement of the lockdown in March to help the needy in the state, along with INR 1.5 crore in aiding the COVID-19 response.

The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine sees the arrival of millions of pilgrims a year as Hinduism’s one of most revered sites. It is the second richest temple in the country after Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams. The pilgrimage has been suspended for almost three months now due to the pandemic but hopes to reopen soon after the nation finds success over the virus.

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