Reported by Sandeep Sarangi
Bhubaneswar, Feb 17:
All roads led to the neighbourhood Shiva Temple as millions of people spread across the length and breadth of Odisha celebrated Maha Shivaratri with great religious fervour today.
Devotees, a majority of them on fast, made a beeline for Shiva shrines since the morning and the crowd kept welling by the hour. The crowds are going to get bigger and the queues longer as the day wears on and the much awaited Maha Deepa gets nearer.
We bring you the fervour and flavour of the celebrations from the major Shiva shrines in the state.
Lingaraj Temple, Bhubaneswar
Devotees in Bhubaneswar have lined up since 4 am for a glimpse of the lord (Sahanamela Darshan) in a queue that had grown 2-km long by the afternoon. The surroundings of the temple have been elaborately decorated with flowers and electric lights. A separate pandal has been erected for the mandatory bhajan samaroh in the evening. The gardens of the temple have been readied well in advance to make room for the thousands of devotees, who will light their deepas (traditional clay lamps) and stay awake all night.
The Maha Deepa would go up in the temple at 10 pm. Devotees usually break the day long fast after witnessing the Maha Deepa reach the top of the temple.
Barricades have been put up and elaborate security arrangements made in and around the temple premises to ensure smooth movement of devotees.
“We are paying alot of attention to traffic and people movement given that the temple is located in a congested place. Our forces have been deployed since 1 AM in the morning and they will be at work for the next 36 hours in four shifts. CCTV cameras have been installed. Along with uniformed police, cops in plain clothes have also been deployed to keep a watch on anti-social elements, eve-teasers and pick pockets. We have deployed more manpower to ensure people move out after paying tributes to the lord without hassles to avoid a stampede like situation. So far, it is going as expected. We are ready to face any eventualiys,” said Commissionerate Police DCP Satyabrata Bhoi.
Dhabaleswar Temple, Athagarh
People have lined up since 5 AM in the morning in the famous temple located on the banks of Mahanadi. While the number of devotees has kept increasing as the day has passed by, the administration has made adequate arrangements to avoid chaos. The atmosphere is charged in religious fervour with chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ filling the air.
“I am keeping a fast for the welfare of my family and will break the fast after witnessing Maha Deepa. The arrangements made by temple administration are quite good. We are happy that we didn’t face any hassles in having a glimpse of the lord,” said a woman from Cuttack.
Chandrashekhar Temple of Kapilas, Dhenkanal
Lakhs of devotees have arrived at the Chandrashekhar Temple to offer their prayers at the famed temple located on the Kapilas hill in Dhenkanal district. The rituals of Maha Shivratri is a little different here. The lord will wear a gold attire (Suna Besa) tonight and the Maha Deepa will be raised at 4 AM in the morning.
Ladubaba temple, Sarankul, Nayagarh
Thousands devotees have already congregated for the darshan of the lord and are waiting patiently in a kilometre long queue since the wee hours of the morning. After a circling of the premises with the entourage as per tradition, the Maha Deepa will be raised at 11:45 PM.
A month-long Jagara Yatra will begin today at the famed Ladubaba temple of Sarankul in Nayagarh.
Panchamukhi Nilakantheswar, Rayagada
Thousands of devotes have lined up in the caves to have a glimpse of Panchamukhi Nilakantheswar in Kalyansinghpur of Debgiri in Rayagada district. The devotees have climbed up 535 stairs on a hill to reach the temple.
Reports of Shivaratri celebrations are also pouring in from other famous Shiva shrines in the state like Loknath Temple of Puri, Gupteswar temple of Koraput and Baba Akhandalamani temple at Aradi in Bhadrak district.