Haridwar/Ajmer/Jodhpur/Varanasi, Feb.20 (ANI): Police have stepped up security at pilgrimage sites in Haridwar,Ajmer, Jodhpur and Varanasi a day after a stampede ata temple in Junagadh in Gujarat claimed six to eight lives and left 12 others injured.
The step was taken on Monday as Hindu devotees celebrate the festival of Mahashivratri.
Police ar frisking visitors with metal detectors. Other safety equipment like surveillance cameras have been installed to prevent unwanted elements from disturbing the festivities.
"We have made several security arrangements here. Police officials, both male and females have been posted here and apart from this, metal detectors have been installed and the devotees are properly frisked by metal detectors. We are properly examining them and then letting them enter the temple. As of now, I think approximately 4000-5000 devotees would have entered the temple," said Station House Officer, Haridwar, M C Joshi.
A large number of devotees flocked to temples in the city to participate in the celebrations of the much-revered festival, which signifies the symbolic marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati.
"Whenever we come here, we always make it a point to visit this temple. We also go to the Visheshwar temple, but we always make it a point to come here, almost every year. This is our belief, we want that he should bless the whole of India. When we perform rituals, we feel that we are dedicating ourselves to the Lord," said Sarita, a devotee.
On the other hand, a devotee of Lord Shiva, Neeru, a resident of Ajmer, Rajasthan, celebrated the festival with a twist. She made a special offering of 851 grains of rice to Lord Shiva and claimed that she had taken approximately four months to complete the task.
"I chose rice as the material for my painting, because it is pure and it has a lot of significance in the Indian culture. We also use it for auspicious occasions, which is why I used rice for this painting," she said.
Priests in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, enlightened devotees, on ways to offer prayers and sweets to the Almighty.
"Today is Mahashivratri and people all over the country pay obeisance to Lord Shiva. The Lord got married on this day, which is why there is so much significance. This holds a lot of importance in Hindu mythology and devotees offer prayers to Lord Shiva, by staying awake all night," said Kamlesh Srimali, a priest.
In Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Hindu devotees celebrated Mahashivratri with great zeal.
Maha Shivaratri or Mahashivratri falls during the dark half of the month of Magh. A day of strict fasting accompanied by Lord Shiva's worship and vigil precedes the festival. Devotees rejoice and feast after they break their fast. It is regarded as an extremely auspicious festival.
The festival celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati, and holds immense importance for the Hindus. (ANI)
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