Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhubaneswar: Religious fervour hit a crescendo across Odisha especially in Ekamra Kshetra-Bhubaneswar where lakhs of devotees celebrated the grand night of Lord Shiva, the Mahashivratri on Friday.

The celebration of the festival was in full swing at major Shiva shrines like Lord Lokanath Temple in Puri, Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Akhandalamani in Bhadrak, Vedvyas in Rourkela and Panchalingeswar in Balasore.

Lord Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar was bedecked with captivating floral decorations and spellbinding lighting arrangements to mark the holy occasion tonight. Devotees were seen making a beeline in front of the temple right from the morning.

[caption id="attachment_436098" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Lord Lingaraj Temple In Bhubaneswar[/caption]

The Singha Dwara and the Courtyard of the temple was decorated with a variety of flowers at a reported cost of Rs 15 Lakh, the sight of which brings a smile on the face of every devotee. A 200-metre long temporary barricade was put by the district administration on the path leading to the Singha Dwara for crowd management. A temporary rest shed was also made to provide shelter to the elderly and physically challenged travellers.

In another new, the devotees who couldn't make it to the inside of the temple were allowed to light their earthen lamps outside the temple premise this year.

Thousands of devotees witnessed the lifting of Maha Deepa at the Lingaraj Temple which was held 15 minutes earlier than its scheduled time.

Apart from Lord Lingaraj in Bhubaneswar, the temple of Lord Lokanath in the pilgrim town of Puri bore much significance for the devotees. It has been witnessing a surge in devotee inflow every Shivratri.

[caption id="attachment_436107" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Lord Lokanath Temple In Puri[/caption]

This year too, the temple trust and the district administration put up arrangements to facilitate the darshan. The door opening rite of Lord Lokanath was performed at midnight. The raising of ‘Mahadeep’ in this shrine is scheduled for 3 AM tomorrow.

Similarly, the shrines of Baba Akhandalamani in Bhadrak and Lord Dhabaleswar in Cuttack were also decked up to welcome lakhs of Shiva devotees.

[caption id="attachment_436108" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Lord Akhandalamani[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_436109" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Lord Somanath In Sambalpur[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_436110" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Vedvyas In Rourkela[/caption]

Looking at the huge crowd expected to gather at Lingaraj Temple, the Commissionerate Police had issued a traffic advisory for the public. Traffic DCP Sagarika Nath said, “We are not allowing four-wheelers at Mausi Maa square on to Ratha Road. People would have to park them near Kedar Goauri Lane near Vivekananda Marg, where three parking places have been allotted for four-wheelers. If you are coming from Punama Gate, then there is a parking space designed near the RI office.”

“People should remember that the area from Badheibanka to the Singhadwara has been marked as ‘pedestrian only’, so no vehicles will be allowed in there,” reminded Nath.