Maha Shivratri celebrated with religious fervor, gaiety across J&K

Devotees paying obeisance at holy Shiv temple on occasion of Maha Shivratri in Jammu (left) and pilgrims in long queues treading stairs to perform darshan at holy Shankaracharya temple at Srinagar on Friday (right). -Excelsior pics by Rakesh & Shakeel
Devotees paying obeisance at a holy Shiv temple on the occasion of Maha Shivratri in Jammu (left) and pilgrims in long queues treading stairs to perform darshan at holy Shankaracharya temple at Srinagar on Friday (right). -Excelsior pics by Rakesh & Shakeel

About 1.5 lakh devotees visit Aap Shambu temple

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Feb 21: Maha Shivratri, the great night of Lord Shiva, was celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety across J&K UT today with thousands of devotees thronging the various temples in Jammu region and Kashmir valley from early this morning.
Maha Shivratri known as `Herath’ was celebrated with traditional zeal and devotion by Kashmiri Pandits after performing night long Pooja of Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati during the last night.

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Throughout the UT in general and Jammu region in particular, all the temples of Lord Shiva were fully decorated and illuminated with buntings and colorful lights by the devotees. The welcome gates were also erected in front of Shiv temples to greet the devotees who visited there on the auspicious occasion to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva.
In Jammu, highest rush of devotees was seen at Aap Shambu temple, Roop Nagar and Ranbireshwar temple, Shalamar. Besides, the heavy rush of devotees was also seen in other Shiv temples like Peer Kho where a three day long Shivratri Mela is also underway, Shiv temples at Tawi bridge, Canal road and other parts of the City. The social and religious organizations organised Bhandaras to offer ‘Prashad’ to devotees at various places in Jammu city and outskirts.
As per reports about 1.5 lakh lakh devotees visited the Aap Shambu temple at Roop Nagar to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva on the occasion of Shivratri today. The entire temple was fully decorated and welcome gates were erected by devotees from Roop Nagar Chowk to holy temple. There were huge queues of pilgrims up to half a kilometer waiting for their turn for darshan from early morning.
As per reports, 1.25 lakh pilgrims had performed darshan at Aap Shambu temple by 7 pm and it crossed 1.50 lakh up to 10 pm.
The authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims. A big contingent of police and CRPF was deployed for the security purposes. The devotees were seen offering milk, Ghee, Bel leaves and water to Shivlingam and chanting Vedic mantras for peace and well being of humanity.
Thousands of devotees also visited Ranbireshwar temple in heart of the city today to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. There was heavy rush in the temple and devotees were seen waiting in long queues for the darshan and offer prayers.
Large number of devotees thronged the Kameshwar temple and other temples in Akhoor to offer prayers to Lord Shiva today.
Thousands of devotees visited the holy shrine of Shiv Kohri in Reasi district to participate in Maha Shivratri celebrations where the three day -long Maha Shivratri mela is underway which started yesterday. Large number of the devotees thronged other Shiv temples in the district including holy township of Katra also to offer special prayers to the Lord.
Maha Shivratri was celebrated with great devotion and religious fervor in various temples of district Samba today. Reports reaching here said that thousands of devotees paid obeisance to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati in 900 year old Maheshwari Mandir , Sameshwar Mandir and Dangeshwar Mandir Samba from wee hours today.
On the occasion, various social and religious organizations had organised Bhandars to offer Prashad to devotees.
As usual, a Shivratri fair was also held in the holy Maheshwari temple Samba where besides, people from all walks of life, a large number of children also visited.
Another grand religious function was held in famous Shiv temple Main Bazaar, Samba where a huge rush of devotees was witnessed from early morning. A grand bhandara was also organized in the temple premises by the religious and social organizations.
Large number of devotees’ drawn from different areas thronged the ancient Shiv temple at Billawar town in Kathua district and offered special prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
The Shivratri festival was also celebrated in other Shiv temples of district including Ghagwal and Hatli.
Large number of devotees thronged the ancient Shiv Temple at Sudh Mahadev, Shiv Temple Ramnagar and Devki temple at Devika Udhampur from early this morning to participate in Shivratri celebrations there and offered special Pooja to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Huge rush of devotees was witnessed in Shiv temples in erstwhile Doda district. As per reports, a large number of devotees thronged historical ‘Gupt Ganga’ temples where main function was held. The devotees including women and children were seen waiting in long queues for darshan during the entire day.
A Jagran was also organised in ancient Gupt Ganga temple during last night.
Maha Shivratri was celebrated in other temples of Ramban, Kishtwar, Rajouri and Poonch districts also.
Maha Shivratri which is known as Herath in Kashmir was celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety in the Valley where devotees thronged several temples to worship the Lord Shiva.
A large number of devotees thronged the ancient Shankaracharya temple in Srinagar city situated on Shankaracharya hill-lock chanting religious mantras and hymns in praise of Lord while treading the stairs leading to holy temple.
As per reports, the holy Shankaracharya temple was for the first time illuminated with colorful lights and decorated with buntings in last three decades of turmoil in Kashmir valley which indicated the change in ground situation there and return of peace and normalcy in the trouble-torn Valley.
The devotees after paying obeisance at Shankaracharya temple also visited the holy Kheer Bhawani temple Tulmulla to pay their obeisance. They said Puja -Archana was held in both the temples for peace and prosperity of Jammu and Kashmir.
The devotees said they prayed for peace and prosperity shall prevail in Kashmir. “We prayed for peace to prevail in Kashmir along with other parts of world”, said a devotee from Udhampur who visited both the temples today.
“We prayed that no mother should lose her son and no sister lose her brother and no woman should become widow. We prayed for peace to prevail, along with other parts of the world , where the peace continues to elude”, he added.
It may be recalled that Kashmiri Pandits celebrated the Maha Shivratri festival in unique way. Besides, night long worships in the special pooja rooms in their houses, they also soak walnuts in clay pots for three days and later distribute them as prasahd.
They also consider the rain-fall and snow as a good omen on the day from times immemorial.