Shortly after the dawn, as the clock stuck seven, the chief priest of the 6th century shrine, Rawal Bhima Shankar Ling Shivacharya, unlocked the portals of the temple and stepped into the sanctum-sanctorum to perform the puja.
    
The prayers commenced on Sarwartha Siddi Yog, considered to be auspicious. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna, who was also scheduled to attend the prayers along with some of his ministerial colleagues, could not take off from Dehradun due to inclement weather.
    
The Kedar Valley is enveloped in a thick veil of fog and various media teams, which had to cover the ceremony, are stuck in Guptkashi, due to bad weather. The Puja began with a 'shuddhikaran' (purification) of the temple and 'prayashchitikaran' (atonement for prolonged suspension of prayers at the shrine).
    
The chief priest was accompanied by a large number of purohits and Badrinath Kedarnath Samiti officials. The shrine reverberated with the collective recitals of Vedic hymns and blowing of conch shells.
    
However, the resumption of prayers at the 13,500 ft-high shrine is of limited nature, as no pilgrim is being allowed right now to visit the temple. A meeting is scheduled to be held on September 30 to decide the date for resumption of Yatra to the famed Himalayan temple.
    
The temple, cleaned and spruced up for the occasion, came back to life after the deathly silence of all these months. Prayers at the shrine were suspended after the flash floods wreaked havoc in Uttarakhand, especially in the hill districts of Rudraprayag, Urttarakashi, Chamoli and Pittoragrh, leading to the death of over 600 people as per official figures, and leaving more than 4,000 missing.

(Agencies)

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