Pundit Sanjay Pandya is an Indian priest, astrologer and Vaastu Shaastra specialist who’s been at the centre of many religious activities in South Africa. One of the annual events that the priest facilitates has become to be known as the ‘African Amarnath Yatra‘.
Guru Pandya has been promoting universal Hindu dharma at Sri Shakti Temple in the heart of Johannesburg and is known for his diverse audience of multilingual Indians and South Africans of various faiths that visit the Sri Shakti Temple regularly for the experience of divine vibrations that emanate from the temple.
In India, the yatra is a devout 47km trek to the holy Amarnath cave, a 12,729 ft in a glacial gorge in Kashmir where ardent Shiva devotees challenge mountainous terrain to see the almighty linga, which legend says, waxes and wanes with the moon.
According to a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort, Parvati.
Why did Guru Pandya decide to host the Amarnath in Africa?
Pandya’s decision to host the Amarnath Yatra in South Africa is what he emotionally explains as a ‘divine calling’ after his experience at the holy shrine in India.
He was amongst the devotees on the fateful 1996 journey to the ice lingam, he was the only pilgrim to have reached the shrine even after having been left paralyzed in the disaster where thousands were left sick and many dead.
This naturally formed ice structure is mentioned in the ancient Hindu texts of Mahabharata and Puranas stating that the ice Lingam represents Lord Shiva.
Thousands of devotees have converged at the Sri Shakti temple in Johannesburg this past weekend walking barefoot over frozen ice slabs to seek an audience with the ice structure shaped as the lingam of the Hindu god, Shiva.
PHOTOS: Walking The Icy Path To the Amarnath Linga
Over 40 tons of Himalayan ice exported to South Africa is used to recreate the ice abode and lingam.
The 1996 Amarnath Tragedy
The Government of India had banned the Amarnath Yatra from 1991 to 1995 due to threats from militants. Then in 1996, the militants had assured that they would not interfere with the yatra.
Pandya was one of the many pilgrims who embarked on the religious journey in India to the holy pilgrimage site in India in 1996 when the yatra was opened again. The numbers for the re-opened pilgrimage event had been unusually higher than normal.
Between, August 21 and 25 over 100,000 yatris were simultaneously moving to and from between Jammu and the Amarnath.
“It was like Shiva’s tandav nritya (dance of death),” says a numbed survivor of the 1996 trek.
The 47km trek had experienced freak weather conditions, which lead to the worst-ever tragedy along the religious trail claimed over 200 lives.