Devotees celebrate Mahasivarathri in Kerala with gusto

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Devotees gather at the banks of River Periyar on the occasion of Mahasivarathri / File Photo: PTI

Thiruvananthapuram: Mahasivarathri festival was celebrated with traditional zeal and fervour in Kerala on Saturday as a large number of devotees thronged Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, to take part in special rituals from early morning.

As there is no restriction that had been in place in the previous years due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the rush of devotees was comparatively high in many shrines to offer prayers on the auspicious day.

Long queues of devotees could be seen in front of many famed temples across the state.

In Hindu families, people used to observe 'orikkal' (fasting), dedicate the leaves of 'Koovalam' plant, which is considered holy as per tradition, to Lord Shiva and forgo their sleep chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya' mantras to mark the day.

Many ardent devotees, especially women and children, even remain awake throughout the night or spend their whole day in temples.

Cultural programmes are also organised in many temples for those who spend their day there as part of the rituals.

The Sreekandeswaram Mahadeva Temple here, Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur and Maha Deva temple in Vaikom were among the major shrines in the state which witnessed heavy rush since early morning.

Devaswom Boards, which manage many major shrines in the state, made elaborate arrangements in Shiva temples to ensure smooth darshan for devotees.

Arrangements have been put in place on the banks of Periyar river in Aluva in Ernakulam for 'Balitharppanam', a ritual in which people pay obeisance to their ancestors.

Performing the ritual at the midnight of Sivarathri is considered auspicious by devotees.

A large number of 'bali taras' (specially erected platforms) have been set up on the banks of the river to perform the ritual and a large number of priests have been deployed to assist devotees.

According to Hindu mythology, Sivarathri is celebrated to mark the day when Lord Shiva saved the universe by drinking 'kalakoodam', a pot of poison that emerged from the ocean and kept it in his throat. PTI

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