New Delhi, Mar 6 (UNI) Mahashivratri, which symbolises the marriage day of Lord Shiva with Parvati, was celebrated with religious fervour and gaiety across the nation today.
In Delhi hundreds of Shiv temples were tastefully decorated as people, mainly women, formed lines since morning to offer milk, 'jal' and other offerings to the holy 'Shivling'.
The festival began at dawn with the traditional 'mangal aarti' across temples.
Several Shiv devotees had observed fast to mark the festival.
Devotees, in fact, had started the celebrations yesterday itself by taking out processions with men dressed as Lord Shiva and his mates.
In Uttar Pradesh, lakhs of 'Shiv bhakts' paid obeisance to Lord Neelkanth amid chants of 'Har Har Mahadev' reverberating in the air.
In Lucknow, the festival commenced with the traditional 'Mangala Aarti' at Mankameshwar, Bhootnath and Buddheshwar temples.
Temple town Varanasi, which according to Hindu mythology is standing on Lord Shiva's trident (trishul), celebrated the festival for two days. The entire holy city went 'Shivmai'.
The grand celebration of Mahashivratri commenced at Kashi Vishswanath temple early yesterday with Mangala Aarti.
In Triveni Allahabad, thousands of devouts took a holy dip in Sangam, the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.
Mandi town in Himachal Pradesh has been decked up to receive about 125 gods and goddesses who converge here with regal traditions of the erstwhile princely state. They pay obeisance to Madho Rai, the presiding deity of the town on the occasion of Mahashivratri.
The celebrations, in the form of a religious fair, commence with a spectacular 'Shobha Yatra', a day after Mahashivratri worship is held in the temples.
The grand 'Shobha Yatra', starts from Damdama Palace, led by Madho Rai and hundreds of gods and goddesses carried by thousands of devotees.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal will inaugurate the 'Shobha Yatra' tomorrow.
Mahashivratri, ''Herath'' the main festival of the Kashmiri pandits was celebrated throughout the valley by members of the pandit community who participated in night-long prayers.
Today is ''salam'' when the members of the community, after night-long prayers in their homes, greet each other and also receive their Muslim brethren. A number of Muslims, particularly elders, were seen greeting the Pandit families on the occasion.
Madhya Pradesh also witnessed a huge influx of devotees on this occasion. In Ujjain, District Collector and Temple Managing Committee President Shivshekhar Shukla took part in the worship.
All the Shiva temples in Ujjain have been specially decorated. Mahashivratri marks the marriage ceremony of the Lord Shiva and on this occasion he is decked as a bridegroom and the grand campus of temple converted into a marriage 'pandal'.
In Maharashtra, thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva thronged the famous Babulnath temple and other Shiv temples across Mumbai, where special arrangements had been made for prayers.
Devotees offered Chandan, milk, 'bellpatri', 'dhatura', 'tila' and flowers to the 'Shiv-ling.' Groups of north Indians had organised ''puja'' and made an arrangement of ''Prasad'' and ''Bhakti-Geet Sandhya'' in different parts Mumbai city.
The Mahashivratri was celebrated with traditional enthusiasm and religious fervour across Andhra Pradesh.
Faithfuls thronged major Shiva temples, including the famous Sri Kalahasthiswara temple at Srikalahasti in Chittoor district, Sri Durga Malleswara temple in Vijayawada and Bharamarambha Malikarjunaswamy temple at Srisailam in Kurnool district.
'Shivalingas' were worshipped on the auspicious occasion by giving a ritualistic bath and performing special poojas. Devotees also observed fast and chant mantras in honour of Lord Shiva all day and night since the break of dawn with the belief that worship of Shiva on the auspicious occasion would absolve them of all their sins and liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.
UNI Team BDP HS1945