Shivaratri Regional Celebrations

Shivaratri Regional CelebrationsAndhra Pradesh
Festival of Shivaratri is observed with extreme fervor in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Devotees swarm the various important Shiva temples. Devotees observe fast and chant mantras in honor of Lord Shiva to mark this propitious festival.

In the North-Eastern state of Assam, the Shivratri celebrations are held at Umananda Temple, situated on the Peacock Island in the middle of Brahamaputra river in Guwahati. Another major centre of Mahashivaratri celebrations in Assam is Sibsagar, the capital of the Ahom kings.

Himachal Pradesh
The Temple of Bhutnath at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh hosts the biggest Shivaratri Puja in the country. This tradition was started around 500 years ago. An eight-day-long fair is also organized that observes the participation of artists from India and world wide.

Jammu and Kashmir
Hindus of Kashmir observe Shivaratri with utmost zeal and devotion. Here, Shivratri is celebrated for three weeks or 21 days. Kashmiri Brahmins perform Shivaratri puja on the 13th day of the dark half of Phalguna Krishna Paksha to mark Lord Shiva's wedding with Uma, the beautiful daughter of the Himalayas.
Two pots (called kalash), depicting Shiva and Parvati are filled with walnuts soaked in water. These walnuts are taken out only on the third day which usually falls on the no moon day or amavasya. On the third day this walnut which is wet is distributed to all friends and neighbours as prasad. On the chaturdashi (14th day after full moon) there is the real feasting when the families invite each other for dinners.

Festival of Maha Shivaratri is observed with splendor and eagerness in the southern state of Karnataka. A grand Sri Shidlingappa's fair is observed to mark the auspicious occasion. Deity is taken to the river in a palanquin and is then worshipped. Married women wear a linga made of silver or gold on their body.

Madhya Pradesh
Shivaratri is celebrated with religious commitment in the state of Madhya Pradesh. Devotees on this day take a holy dip in Sagar tank in Khajuraho. A large number of Lord Shiva devotees flock the Matangeshwar Temple and worship throughout the night. The Shivaratri celebrations go on at the Matangeshwar Temple for 10 days and witness mass participation.

Major centres of Shivaratri celebrations in the Orissa state are Lingaraj Temple and Hakateswar Temple Atri. Shiva temples located at Mahendragiri, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Bhubaneswar and Khiching also draw a large of pilgrims from across the state. Shivaratri celebration at Lokanath Temple, Puri is also quite popular.

West Bengal
On a Shivaratri day, devotees in West Bengal fast through out the day. They also make four Shivlings made of clay of the holy river Ganga. The devotees also stay awake the all through the Shivaratri night. The following morning, they pray, listen to religious discourses, feed the Brahmins, offer them alms and finally break their fast with prasad. At the temple of Tarakeshwar, 57 km from Kolkata, bare-footed pilgrims carry containers filled with the sacred water of river Ganga to pour over the stone image of the Lord and decorate the granite Lingum with garlands and flowers.

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