SAMBALPUR: Thousands of devotees thronged the Shivalayas in both Sambalpur and Bargarh districts on the occasion of Shivratri on Friday. With Shaivism flourishing in the region due to the rule of Chauhan dynasty in the region, Shiva temples dot the landscape.
In the undivided district of Sambalpur, a large number of Shiva temples were built during the Chauhan rule.
Prominent among them is the Asta Sambhu Pitha comprising Bimaleswar in Huma, Kedarnath in Ambabhona, Vishwanath in Deogaon, Balunkeswar of Gaisama, Maneswar in Sambalpur, Swapneswar in Sorna, Viseswar in Soronda and Nilakantheswar in Niljee.
While the Shiva temple at Huma and Maneswar are in Sambalpur district, the rest are located in Bargarh district.
These temples though small in height are of great artistic beauty. The presiding deity Bimaleswar of leaning temple of Huma is the chief among the Asta Sambhus and continues to raise curiosity due to its architectural uniqueness.
In most of the temples, Khichidi bhog was offered to the Lord and distributed among the devotees while many others observed fast to invoke the Lord. The devotees continued to pour in at the temples till late into the night.
Festive fervour across State
At Loknath temple in Puri, over three lakh devotees observed ‘Jagara’ ritual.
After the mahadeepa was lifted atop the temple, the presiding deity was offered Khichdi bhog which was then distributed among devotees.
Ten platoons of police force were deployed near the temple to maintain law and order situation.
The cave shrines of Gupteswar in Koraput district and Pataleswar Mahadev at Biripuda hills in Kalahandi saw a large congregation of devotees.
At Gupteswar, apart from devotees within the State, people from neighbouring Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh took part in Shivratri rituals and performed puja after taking a holy dip in the Patali Ganga river.
Tribals in large numbers participated in the Shivratri Mela where they sold minor forest products collected from Ramgiri forest.
Heavy security deployment was made in the area.Apart from Pataleswar Mahadev shrine, Shivratri was celebrated in 6th century Nilakantheswar temple at Mohangiri in Kalahandi district.
In Malkangiri, Mallikeswar temple situated atop a hill on the outskirts of the town was a major crowd-puller and in Balangir district, devotees visited the Harishankar temple under Patnagarh sub-division.
A Shivratri Mela is being organised in Ranipur-Jharial, which is considered as both a Tantra and Shaiva Peetha, that will continue for five days.
Various rituals were observed at Kapilas in Dhenkanal. Around 13 platoons of police were deployed at the hill temple and district administration imposed a polythene ban in the area.
In Rourkela, devotees thronged various temples from early morning. The Vedvyas temple complex on the banks of Brahmani river saw huge rush of devotees who lighted clay lamps in the evening and observed ‘Jagara’ rituals.
They would break their fast after the ‘mahadeep’ is lifted atop temple after midnight. The fortnight-long Shivratri fair organised by the Vedvyas Trust Board also kicked off near the Vedvyas temple.
The annual fair is being organised for the last 113 years.