Kedarnath priest's family prays for his safe return

Kedarnath priest's family prays for his safe return

Kedarnath priest's family prays for his safe return

The first thing on the mind of Shilpa, wife of Vageesha Lingacharya, chief priest of the Kedarnath temple in Uttarakhand, is the safe return of her husband.

With the temple likely to remain closed for some more time, Shilpa says her husband will return home after the temple committee takes a decision on the future course of action.

Shilpa and the couple’s children - Kedarnath (4) and Sanjana (2) - are presently staying at her in-law’s place, Banavalli village of Harihar taluk in the district. They have four acres of agriculture land, which is looked after by Vageesha’s brother.

Vageesha and his family came down to the village just before Ugadi this year. While the priest returned to the Lord Shiva shrine, Shilpa and the children stayed back. The couple are married for five years now.

He has been a priest at the temple for 10 years now and is presently staying at the Ukki Mutt in Rudraprayag district, 55 km from Kedarnath. There are five priests in the temple and each of them becomes the chief priest by rotation every year.

Besides the pooja rituals, the chief priest is responsible for the protection of the ‘utsav murthy’ (procession idol) and jewellery of the deity worth crores of rupees. The poojas are held only for six months in a year (between Akshaya Tritiya and Deepavali). The temple is closed during winter. The procession idol is then kept at Ukki Mutt.

Shilpa says she and the children had adapted themselves to the weather in Kedarnath and would come down once a year. Vageesha was neck deep in water during the floods and the temple’s silver utensils were washed away, she said.

He had no water to drink for a day and a half which he spent in a nearby hillock. Water was provided to him by Army personnel who airlifted him from Kedarnath.

She is now hoping for his homecoming soon and the family will decide on his return to the temple later on.