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Mahashivratri celebrated across the country

February 16, 2007

Devotees celebrating MahashivratriDevotees thronged temples across the country offering prayers, Gangajal and milk to 'lingams' on Mahashivratri on Friday as thousands took a holy dip at Sangam in Allahabad to mark the culmination of the Ardh Kumbh mela.

Amid chants of Har Har Mahadev, some 2,000 Naga sadhus led the performance of 'jalabhishek' of Lord Shiva at the Kashi Vishwanath mandir in Varanasi.

The faithful waited in long, serpentine queues since the morning to offer milk and 'Gangajal' to the shivlingam at the temple.

Most women observing a fast on the auspicious occasion, which also symbolises the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.

Legend has it that during the samundra manthan of the gods and demons, the 'destroyer' drank the poison coming from the ocean to save the world.

Heavy security arrangements were made for the festival in the town with the adorned Vishwanath, Markandey Mahadev, Mritunjaya Mahadev, Shooltankeshwar Mahadev temples and other shrines seeing a steady stream of devotees.

The day also marked the official conclusion of the Ardh Kumbh in Allahabad, though most tents had been removed and sadhus and 'kalpavasis' left on Maghi Purnima on February 2.

Traffic restrictions were in force with the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati again abuzz with activities. Some devotees took out symbolic processions dressed as 'Natraj' to mark the divine wedding.

People flocked Babulnath temple and other Shiva shrines in Mumbai while thousands bathed in the Godavari and paid obeisance at Lord Trimbakeshwara temple housing 'jyotirlingas' in Trimbakeshwar town, about 29 km from Nasik.

Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

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