What is this Samajwadi Shravan Yatra? Can you make a guess? Many of us must have heard of Shravan Kumar. It was thousands of years ago, when Shravan Kumar, a dutiful and obedient son, had carried his visually impaired parents on his shoulder to various religious places where his parents wished to go. Quite later, Shravan Kumar became one of the strongest sources of inspiration for lakhs of youngsters. He set an example for the entire society and was a role model for the generations to come. Taking forward this legacy, the Uttar Pradesh government under the leadership of Hon. Chief Minister Shri Akhilesh Yadav has taken an initiative known as the Samajwadi Shravan Yatra, that fulfils the wishes of the people who wish to travel to various pilgrimage and religious places within the country. It is known that many of the aged people are unable to visit pilgrimage places because of the financial burden. In order to fulfil their wishes, the UP government has undertaken such pilgrimage tours for the senior citizens.
Among all the tours undertaken till date, the very recent tour was a pilgrimage trip to Amritsar. In order to fulfil the dreams of the senior citizens UP CM Akhilesh Yadav had organized a paid trip. This Samajwadi Shravan Yatra this year started on 8th August, 2016 and lasted till 11th August, 2016. This yatra started from the Charbagh station, Lucknow at 1:30 PM; the trip being flagged off by Minister of prisons Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia and Minister of state (independent charge) for Dharmarth Karya Mr Vijay Kumar Mishra. Before leaving for the Yatra all the arrangements had been properly reviewed and checked. Also, the pilgrims were informed regarding the history of the Golden temple located in Amritsar and some important aspects related to it. With the assistance of IRCTC, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav has been able to fulfil the wishes of many pilgrims irrespective of caste and religion so that they can visit their Lord. A total of 878 pilgrims had visited Amritsar.
With the launching of this ambitious ‘Samajwadi Shravan Yatra’, a hope has been instilled in the elderly people that sooner or later, they are going to realize their dreams of visiting the abode of their deities. This initiative by the UP government will enable many genuine pilgrims to get a glimpse of their Lord. It was UP CM Akhilesh Yadav who was the source of inspiration for the Shravan Yatra. This project has been successfully implemented by the ministry of religious affairs. The inauguration of the Samajwadi Shravan Yatra happened by undertaking a tour to the pilgrimage places like Haridwar and Hrishikesh. This tour was flagged off by the Chief Minister himself. Till date, already four Samajwadi Shravan Yatras have been undertaken. The fifth tour would be covering places like Shirdi, Trimbakeshwar, and Shignapur in Maharashtra. It will be an all-expenses paid trip.
For any pilgrimage tour, the selection of the pilgrims is done based on the first come first serve basis as well as in terms of seniority of age. All the necessary and minimum required facilities are provided by the UP government itself like food, lodging, and items of daily usage as well as free medical facilities. Also, care is taken that the pilgrims get the best possible buses for local tours, proper transportation facilities, connecting trains plying between the required places of visit and a proper and clean place to stay.
The names of the tours that have already been undertaken include the following:
- Haridwar and Hrishikesh on March 14, 2015
- Ajmer and Pushkar on July 23, 2015
- Tirupati and Rameshwaram on January 20, 2016
- Jagannath Puri and Konark temple in Odisha on February 24, 2016
- Dwarka, Somnath and Nageshwar temple on July 26,2016
All the above tours that have been mentioned are conducted through IRCTC of the Indian Railways and special luxurious trains are being allotted for the tours.
The elderly pilgrims who have availed this tour are very happy and express their feelings towards UP CM Akhilesh Yadav. A 65-year old woman after stepping off the train at Charbagh Railway Station had tears of joy as her dreams of visiting her Lord was being fulfilled by the UP government. She considered UP CM Akhilesh Yadav as God and he was no less than Shravankumar for her. This old lady was returning from Shirdi and Singnapur. She wanted to visit Shirdi from a very long time and it is because of the efforts of the UP government that the dreams of ordinary people are being fulfilled in such an efficient manner.
This spiritual journey to religious places has enabled many senior citizens to go for a free pilgrimage. The people have compared UP CM Akhilesh Yadav to Shravan Kumar. Since there is no bar on religion under this initiative, it also promotes communal harmony. Since time immemorial, religious tours have always been considered an integral part of our culture. These kinds of tours can promote our culture and tradition. People get to know more about their own roots, that will gradually strengthen the unity and integrity of the country. The Samajwadi Shravan Yatra is surely fulfilling the dreams of the people in their sunset years, bringing hope, and smile on their faces.