SAMBALPUR / BERHAMPUR / ROURKELA / DHENKANAL/ BHAWANIPATNA:Thousands of devotees across the State thronged various temples and shrines to offer their prayer to Lord Shiva on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri on Wednesday.
In the undivided district of Sambalpur, a large number of Shiva temples were built during the Chauhan period. The most important ones among them are ‘Asta Sambhu Pitha’, comprising Bimaleswar in Huma, Kedarnath in Ambabhona, Viswanath in Deogaon, Balunkeswar of Gaisama, Maneswar in Sambalpur, Swapneswar in Sorna, Viseswar in Saranda and Nilekantheswar in Niljee. Except for the Shiva temples at Huma and Maneswar in Sambalpur district, the rest are located in Bargarh district.
These temples are situated at picturesque locations. The presiding deity Bimaleswar of the leaning Shiva temple of Huma is the chief among the Asta Sambhus and is known for its architectural marvel. In most of the temples, ‘Khichidi Bhoga’ was offered to the Lord and distributed among the devotees. Several other devotees had observed fast to invoke the Lord and broke it after the ‘Jagar Deepa’ (Lamp) was raised atop the temples.
Devotees also visited Ranipur Jharial in Balangir district, which is considered both Tantra and Shaiva Peetha. Indralath temple also attracted devotees. In Sonepur, devotees gathered at Shiva temples of Rameswar, Subarnameru, Paschim Somanath, Loknath, Balunkeswar, Chandrasekhar, Gokarneswar and Godhaneswar in the district.
Similar enthusiasm of devotees was witnessed in Ganjam district, including in Berhampur. The Asta Sambhu temples were heavily crowded. Elaborate security arrangements were put in place at all the temples.
In Sundargarh district, the day was observed with gaiety and devotion. It was a treat to the eyes to watch thousands of fasting devotees lighting tiny lamps on the premises of Vedvyas temple complex on the banks of Brahmani river as part of the ‘Jaagar’ ritual. They ended their fast after the Mahadeep was raised atop the temple. “One lakh devotees visited the temple complex till evening. Thousands of others were waiting with lamps,” said Vedvyas Trust Board (VTB) secretary Anupam Ray. The 111th Mahashivratri fair kicked off at Vedvyas amid tight security arrangements.
The revellers were deprived of various joy rides at the fair as the operators were not allowed to instal the same by the administration. “Eight platoons of forces have been deployed and round-the-clock police control room is operating at the venue for smooth passage of the fair,” Rourkela SP Uma Shankar Dash said. The fair ground was provided with all the basic amenities. The bathing Ghats along Brahmani river were being manned by Odisha Disaster Response Force and fire brigade personnel, he added.
There was no dearth in devotion in Dhenkanal district. In a bid to seek blessings from the Lord, devotees visited Saibyapitha Kapilash. They waited in long queues to offer puja at the main temple. The district administration made elaborate arrangements with Endowment department to prevent any untoward incident. Sodoshauppachara puja started around 7 pm. Rudrabahisekh is scheduled to be held around 3 am and Mahaswana around 3 50 am on Thursday. Volunteers of Prajapita Brahmakumari Iswariya Viswavidyalaya organised a peace rally to spread awareness on the importance of Shivaratri. The rally started from Sri Ram Mandap and ended at Bajichowk in Dhenkanal.
Similar scenes were seen at Bhawanipatna. Large gathering of devotees was witnessed at the Shiva temples of pre-medieval and medieval ages like Belkhandi temple, Mohangiri Shiva temple, Brajagarh Shiva temple, Dadpur Shiva temple and Deypur (Kalampur) temple.