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Devotees throng Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar temple

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Ujjain (MP), Feb 26 (UNI) Thousands of devotees from various parts of India paid their respects, on 'Mahashivaratri', at this ancient temple town's world-renowned Mahakaleshwar shrine, which is among India's dozen 'jyotirlingas'.

People began arriving here last night. Every year, Lord Shiva's 'wedding anniversary' is celebrated at the temple whose vast premises are lit up to resemble a marriage 'mandap'. Today is the grand finale of the 'Navratri Mahotsav' that got underway on the 'Phalgun' month's 'Krishna Paksha Panchami'. Special arrangements were made for speedy 'darshan' and the temple will remain open throughout the night.

''The sanctum sanctorum's doors were opened at 0230 hours today and the 'Bhasmarti' ritual progressed until 0500 hours after which devotees began 'darshan'. By afternoon, more than 50,000 devotees, including Madhya Pradesh Power Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, paid their respects,'' Mahakaleshwar Management Committee Administrator Shubhkaran Sharma told UNI.

During the 'Mahotsav', Lord Mahakal is clad in attractive masks and daily decked with ancient ornaments to resemble a bridegroom.

Devotees will bathe in the Kshipra tomorrow on the occasion of 'Somvati Amavasya'. The shrine is an unique example of 'Vastu Shastra' and India's sole temple where 'Bhasmarti' takes place daily.

Collector Neeraj Mandloi and Superintendent of Police G Janardan are camping in the temple premises.

UNI XC-AC ARB RS1719

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