( A view of Shivratri procession )

The weeklong historical international Shivratri festival of Mandi began on Friday with a colourful jaleb (procession) starting from Madho Rai temple to Paddal ground.  

Hundreds of deities carried by devotees on their shoulders accompanied by drummers and dancing followers marched from Madho Rai temple to the festival ground. Principal deity of the festival lord Madho Rai was carried in a palanquin.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur wearing a colourful turban, joined by his cabinet colleague Mahender Singh Thakur, all MLAs from Mandi district and a large number of other dignitaries wearing traditional turbans participated in the jaleb. Earlier he also paid obeisance in the Madho Rai temple. .

Since Himachal Pradesh is celebrating Golden Jubilee of statehood this year cultural  troupes from Kullu , Lahaul –Spiti and local groups depicting culture through folk dances were special attraction of the procession in which a  contingent of police and tableau on Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao theme also drew public attraction.

( A participant depicting folk culture in Shivratri festival )

Earlier, the Chief Minister paid obeisance in the Madho Rai temple and formally inaugurated the festival in paddal ground.

 The festival is basically a congregation of local deities of Mandi district as nearly two hundred deities accompanied by their devotees, worshippers and followers attend the festival every year and stay here for a week. Being a famous festival of the region lakhs of devotees make a beeline to attend this festival.

Addressing the public on this occasion Thakur said this year’s Shivratri festival marks fifty years of statehood of Himachal and we are celebrating Swarnim festival.

He said several development projects like Rs 500 crore suketi channelization project, construction of Shivdham etc are being undertaken here and the state government is implementing policies to benefit every section of society.

Later, the Chief Minister inaugurated the exhibition at Paddal Ground and exhibition put to relive our past above Indira Market.

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