|Sadhus smoke on the Shiva Doul (temple) premises in Sivasagar on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos
Sivasagar, Feb. 26: One of the largest gathering places of people for a religious purpose in India, the four-day Maha Shivratri Mela began today at Sivasagar with a grand opening ceremony.
The ceremony took place inside the Shiva Doul (temple) complex in Sivasagar, headed by Sivasagar deputy commissioner S.S. Meenakshi Sundaram, who is also the president of the Sivasagar Temple Development Board.
After inaugurating the fair by illuminating the ceremonial lights, Sundaram, in his speech, lauded the efforts of the organising committee for holding the fair in a systematic manner. He also spoke about the significance of Maha Shivratri.
Bhimkanta Baruah, Dibrugarh University professor, who was the chief guest on the occasion, spoke on the historical perspective of the Shivratri Mela. He also spoke on the architectural significance of the temples constructed during the Ahom period and stressed on the need to preserve and promote the historical monuments of Sivasagar district.
A souvenir in the form of a magazine was also released on the occasion.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made on the fair premises to prevent any untoward incidents during the festival. Administration sources said CCTV cameras have been installed at different locations in and around the Shiva Doul to keep round-the-clock vigil.
Basanta Gogoi, a member of the organising committee, said the rituals of Shivratri would begin at 4am tomorrow. The four-day fair will end on Saturday.
Sivasagar town wore a festive look today as pilgrims, sadhus and traders from different parts of India assembled at the historic town to take part in the festivities. The four-day Shivratri fair in Sivasagar, being held here since the Ahom days, attracts lakhs of visitors.
Shivratri has been celebrated here since the time the Shiva Doul was constructed next to the Sivasagar Tank by Queen Ambika Konwari, second wife of Swargadeo Siva Singha in 1731.
Starting with a small ceremony in the initial years of its establishment, Shivratri celebrations in Sivasagar have attained magnificent proportions in the recent years because of increasing devotees and pilgrims.
Till 1992, the fair was held inside the temple. Subsequently, the fair area was expanded.
The Sivasagar district administration has declared a local holiday on Friday for Shivratri.