Vaishno Devi – Shining in the snow
Her beauty is incomparable and her aura divine. She shines in the snow and in the sun; such is the brilliance of her persona. She is fondly referred to as Mata Rani and one look at her will make all your worries disappear. Her shrine at Vaishno Devi in Katra, Jammu & Kashmir is visited by thousands of devotees every year, just to get a glimpse of that sweet face. Situated on the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, the Vaishno Devi Mandir is a haven for those seeking peace, spirituality and oneness with their soul.
The Call of the Mother
It is said that one knows when his time to visit Mata Rani has come. She is said to call out to her children to pay her a visit. A pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi is believed to be one of the holiest pilgrimages for Hindus. Vaishno Devi is known the world over as the Mother who fulfils all your wishes. Vaishno Devi resides in a Holy Cave situated in the folds of the Trikuta Mountains. This perilous journey is said to be made easier by the Goddess as it is believed that one visiting Vaishno Devi need only take one step and the rest of the journey is taken care of by the Mother. Such is the devotion with which her devotees throng the temple, come rain, snow or sun.
History of the Holy Shrine
Vaishno Devi was first mentioned in the epic Mahabharata wherein Arjun, upon the advice of Lord Krishna prayed to the Mother Goddess for her blessings for victory. To support this belief, there are five stone structures on a mountain overlooking the Holy Cave, believed to signify the Pandavas.
Worshipping Mata Rani
The Mother Goddess is worshipped by way of the “aarti” twice a day; once just before sunrise and the second time immediately after sunset. The Goddess is bathed in water, milk, ghee, honey and sugar, and is then dressed up in a sari and ornaments. The priests also worship other Gods and Goddesses during this time as it is believed that all Gods and Goddesses are present in the sanctum sanctorum.
Souvenirs for the devotees
The Shrine Board operates souvenir shops where you will find chunris, cholas, shawls and saris that have been offered to the Mother Goddess. You can obtain them at nominal prices and take them home to preserve as souvenirs or place them in your place of worship at home. Apart from this, devotees can also take back home CDs, publications of the Shrine Board, photos of the Mother Goddess and other knick knacks.
Have you ever visited Vaishno Devi? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!