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Mandi Shivratri fair at Mandi: A legacy of many generations

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Mandi Shivratri fair at Mandi: A legacy of many generations

The end of February every year sees Mandi erupt in grand celebration in honour of the Hindu god Shiva. Maha shivratri begins on the 13th day of the Magha month of the Hindu calendar. This festival celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati and marks the triumph of truth over ignorance and light over darkness.
The first known grand celebrations of Maha shivratri, in Mandi, date back to the 16th century under the rule of Raja Ajbar Sen. Raja Ajbar Sen built the Madhav Rai Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu and the Bhootnath temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The specific beginnings of this festival as a week-long fair, started with one of the next rulers of Mandi, Ishwari Sen. He was captured by rival forces and later rescued. On his return to his kingdom, he invited all the deities of nearby villages to celebrate the occasion. This invitation happened to coincide with the festival of Maha shivratri in the Hindu calendar. From that time on, the festival is celebrated every year with equal vigour.
Mandi has been at the forefront of Shivratri festivities in India. People travel from across the country to witness the grand celebrations which are graced by the presence of deities. Over 200 deities are brought in from towns surrounding Mandi and worshippers can pay obeisance to the god of their choice. The deities are carried on ‘rathas’ or chariots, some of which are made of real gold and silver. Devotees mark the occasion through prayers, hymns, fasts and meditation.

Content Written by :-  Joanna Bhusari

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