Srinagar, June 18: Mahant Deependra Giri, the custodian of holy mace of Lord Shiva, today expressed serious concern over the ''artificial and chemically-made ice Shivalingam'' at the Amarnath cave shrine this year and demanded a judicial commission to probe this important religious matter.
''If found to be true that Himlingam has been raised manually or mechanically as reported by a section of the media, to me it appears to be an act of sacrilege hurting the sentiments and feelings of devotees,'' he said in a statement here.
The Mahant of Amarnath Charri-Mubarak has also sought the Centre's intervention keeping in view the sentiments of the pilgrims and the nature of the issue.
He urged the central government to appoint a judicial commission of a sitting Supreme Court judge so that the truth comes to light and those guilty were punished.
The Mahant, who has been actively associated with the annual pilgrimage since more than two decades and is the custodian of the holy mace for the past 14 years, said he was of the firm opinion that formation of ''himlingam'' is a natural process and must not be interfered by scientific artifice and procedures.
A large number of devotees every year visit to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath situated on the narrow openings between the mountains of Lidder valley at a height of 3,888 mt in south Kashmir.
The Amarnath Cave is one of the twelve holiest shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, collectively known as 'Jyotirlingas'.
More than 5,00,000 pilgrims are expected to visit the holy cave shrine this year. Last year, the pilgrimage remained incident-free and more than four lakh devotees had a glimpse of the 'ice Shivalingam' (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva).
The lingam is formed naturally with an ice stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the moon.