Devotees on Sunday paid obeisance to Lord Shiva – one among the holy trinity of Hindu mythology – on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri in different parts of the Capital City. Thousands of people stood in serpentine queues since wee hours of the day to offer special prayers at temples of Lord Shiva across the city.
The 11th century Lingaraj temple witnessed a sea of devotees. The temple doors opened at 3.30 am with the ‘aalati’. With a large crowd waiting outside, priests allowed the ‘Sahan Mela’ (darshan) of the deity from 4 am to 11 am. Over one lakh devotees took turns to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the temple to make offerings to Lord Shiva.
“Although devotees were allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum on time, a large number of them did not come out in time resulting in delay. Besides, cleaning of the sanctum sanctorum after Sahan Mela and serving of ‘bhog’ delayed certain rituals,” said an official of the temple administration. By evening, the rituals were running late by an hour.
This year, although the raising of the ‘Mahadeep’ was set for 10 pm, rituals culminated with the holy lamp being lifted atop the temple crown (Dadhinauti) at 11:20 pm. The devotees, who were on a day-long fast, waited patiently for the final ritual to be over after which they broke their fast.
“While NCC cadets sprinkled water on the devotees, providing relief from the heat, the temple administration supplied water pouches,” said chief executive of the Lingaraj temple administration Abani Patnaik.
While the temple was beautifully decorated, ‘bhajan samarohs’ were being held round the clock. Different religious organisations and institutions arranged for cultural programmes in the evening to celebrate Maha Shivaratri. Tight security blanket was thrown around the temple premise.
The Commisionerate Police imposed traffic restrictions in Old Town area in view of rush of devotees. Twenty platoons of police personnel were deployed to ensure that no untoward incident took place. Temple sources said more than two lakh devotees thronged the shrine throughout the day.