New Delhi, Feb 26 (UNI) Temples alight with glittering lamps and crowds of devotees taking dips in holy rivers across the country marked the celebration of Shivratri, believed to be the wedding of Lord Shiva.
People all over thronged the temples of Lord Shiva elaborately decorated with traditional lamps on the occasion. Administration all over the country was geared up to control the crowds for the ocassion.
In Kashmir scores of devotees offered prayers in the various Shiva temples.
The festival is called Herath in Kashmir tracing the surprise of the Pathan rulers who had forced the people to celebrate the festival in the summer month of Asara instead of the stipulated Phalguna and were taken aback by the change in weather conditions which were said to have come about subsequently.
Thousands of devotees from various parts of India offered puja at the Mahakaleshwar shrine of Ujjain which is among India's dozen 'jyotirlingas' while five lakh people took holy dips in holy rivers of Andhra Pradesh particularly river Krishna and lakhs of devotees thronged the eloquently decorated Shiva temples in Punjab and Haryana.
People began reaching Mahakaleshwar shrine of Ujjain last night.
Every year, the occasion 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 Mahakala 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.
The annual fair at Acharya Daron temple in Shivwari at Gagret in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab attracted a large number of devotees who offered prayers at the shrine. Thousands of devotees visited the Kaleshwar Mahadev temple and the ancient Ardhnarishwar Mahadev temple in Hoshiarpur. They also took a dip in the Beas river.
In Amritsar, devotees thronged the Shivala Bhaiya temple and offered prayers and milk at the Shivlingam. Shivaratri was also celebrated in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala and other places in Punjab.
In Haryana, devotees thronged the temples at Kurukshetra and took a dip in the Brahm Sarowar. In Yamunagar also, Shivaratri was celebrated where devotees took a dip in the Yamuna river. A large fair was held at Ferozpur Jhirka in Mewat district to mark Shivaratri.
In Chandigarh devotees visited the Shiva temple in Saketri near Mansa Devi.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Krishna Region of APSRTC is plying about 250 buses from here to Srisailam and different parts of the district for the convenience of devotees. Crowds of people visited the Shiva temples on the banks of river Krishna. Kochi in Kerala saw people thronging Aluva Mangalpuram on the banks of river Periar.
UNI team ARB RK1902