Shivratri draws one & all
Feb. 20: Religious fervour gripped the twin cities and other regions of the state on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri on Monday. From early in the morning devotees were seen making a beeline for the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar and various other Shiv temples across the cities.
Even though the doors of the Lingaraj temple opened at 4am, hundreds of devotees had already gathered outside with their offerings of milk, flowers, fruits and the local sweet dish korakhai.
Apart from senior citizens, several young men and women devotees gathered at the temple to offer prayers.
The long hours of wait did not deter the spirit of worshippers as they enthusiastically chanted “Hari bola” and “Om Namah Shivaya”. Most of the devotees observe fast and perform puja throughout the night during this festival.
“All the members of our family observe a fast on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri. Only after lighting of the mahadipa, we break our fast,” said Kishore Patnaik, a devotee.
The mahadipa — a gigantic lamp — was lit on the dome of the Lingaraj temple late in the evening. The risky and adventurous act of a young priest climbing the tall summit of the temple while holding a huge fire torch to lit the lamp left the crowd awestruck.
All other Shiv temples in the capital also saw the same turnout of worshippers. The scene was no different in Cuttack. Devotees gathered at temples in droves and were seen standing in long queues outside Amareshwar, Astashambu, Sidheswara and Hateskeswar temples since early morning to offer special prayers.
“Special rituals at the temple began at 4am and after darshan, Harihar Vesha was performed at around 2pm. Devotees are expected in huge numbers to witness the lighting of the mahadipa that will be held at around 3am,” said Madhusudan Panda, priest of Amareshwar temple, one of the oldest Shiva temples in Cuttack.
Gigantic earthen lamps at various other Shiva temples in the city also attracted visitors. “This is for the first time that we have decided to go for gigantic earthen lamps. It took the artist around 10 days to make the lamp that was purchased for Rs 5,000,” said Damodar Sahu, member of Jugal Kishore temple at Badei Sahi.
The height of the earthen lamp is five feet and about three quintals of ghee has been used to light it.
Devotees were also seen flocking at the famous Lokanath shrine in Puri and the Vedvyas temple along the Koel river in Rourkela. Fairs were also held outside most temples, where toys, bangles and other items were being sold.
“I make sure to have the jagar chana available at the fair and also love to take a trip on the merry-go-rounds and giant wheels set up during the Maha Shivratri fair,” said Kavita Mohapatra, a young devotee in Cuttack.