Pilgrims at the Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines are causing frustration among officials responsible for their upkeep by disposing of clothing on the banks of the Bhagirathi and Yamuna rivers. In just over two months of pilgrimage this year, a staggering seven hundredweight of clothing, mostly saris, have been recovered from these rivers.
According to the TOI report, despite warnings on billboards and loudspeaker announcements threatening a Rs 1,000 fine for littering, temple officials say these measures have had little impact. Suresh Semwal, the secretary of the Gangotri shrine, acknowledges the seriousness of the problem.
Suresh Semwal, secretary of Gangotri Dham, said: “We have collected four hundredweight of cloth from the Bhagirathi river. At the same time, an official from the Yamunotri Temple Committee said that the situation is no different in this temple either. In Yamunotri Dham, the process of throwing away clothes after bathing is also carried out. So far we have collected three hundredweight of clothes”.
The pilgrimage season, especially during May and June, sees a large influx of visitors to the Char Dham Yatra. To ease the burden on the cleaning staff, women have been asked not to dispose of their clothing, particularly saris.
When asked about the reason for this behaviour, a Yamunotri temple committee official explained that it is not a ritual but rather a consequence of clothing, especially saris, becoming heavy when wet. Consequently, many pilgrims choose to leave their wet clothes behind and continue their journey in dry clothes.
Despite the presence of warnings and the imposition of fines, the pilgrims persist in throwing their clothes into the rivers. Nearly 4 quintals of clothes have been collected from the Bhagirathi River, while 3 quintals have been recovered from the Yamuna River, authorities said.
The situation has become a pressing concern for those involved in maintaining the cleanliness of the Yamunotri and Gangotri shrines. Efforts are underway to address this issue and ensure the cleanliness of the rivers, in the hope of fostering a sense of responsibility among pilgrims.
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