Saturday, April 29, 2017
 
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Maha Shivratri Mela at Shiv Khori

By RS Rana



Laden with immense beauty and high spirituality, Jammu and Kashmir is truly a paradise for the pilgrims and adobe to the holy gods and goddesses worshipped in the shrines, caves or hill spots. These holy symbols have left profound impact of spiritual exaltation on the minds of pilgrims who stride through an exceedingly and enthralling routes to meet their shinning glory and divinity. It is only due to their supreme sacredness and reverence, sages and rishis have fostered their spiritual pursuits there. Much more is the people devotion and firm faith towards them who organize fairs or festivals to keep alive their pious glory and to attract lakhs of tourists. The religious shrines like Mata Vaishno Devi, Bawa Jitto , Shri Amar Nath, Hemis Gumpa, Sankri devta, Chunda Mata, Machail Mata, Bahu, Kousar Nag etc have gained popularity around the world through pilgrimages, Melas and festivities.


Melas at religious places serve the purpose of breaking the monotony in life and bring all people under one ambit irrespective of their caste, creed and religion. People of different communities interact with one another and strengthen the bond of brotherhood and amity. They are exposed to novel experience and invigorate one another lives. They are also great samples of the rich cultural diversity and deep rooted traditional value system of the region. The religious fairs in our State are organized with great festive fervor, splendor and pomp.


Shiv Khori fair locally called Maha Shivratri mela at Shiv Khori shrine is alike example where three day festivities are organized on Maha Shivratri. The solemn event is notable also for its introspective focus, fasting, social harmony, tantric worship etc. On this occasion one has to witness huge congregations from various parts of the state. Besides, tourists from other states also enthuse to attend this auspicious festival.


As one reaches at main location of shivling, the scene is tinged with awe and veneration and for which ineffable feeling is developed on looking over holy gods like shapes. Pilgrims are also found there performing mediation or yogic exercises. On one side two more cave are seen with rocky designs and natural signs. No one dares to enter into them. It is said that Maa Parvati passed through one of the two towards surg lok (heaven) and other is linked with the holy devtas.


Usually, Maha Shivratri mela at Shiv Khori is held in the month of February or March and in this year, the revered function is being organized from 23rd to 25th February. The locals and pilgrims feel a sense of pride and high spirituality while participating in such events along with their family members and relatives.



The Mela begins with Shiv Parvati Jhanki traditionally known as Shiv Barat on the first day is taken out from Ransoo Bazar and culminates at Shiv darbar at the entrance of cave. The Jhanki appears very sacred and devotional for visitors. The local participants accompanying the baraat appear in unique dress. Musical instruments like Band baja becomes other sign of attraction when some followers dance to the tune of musical instruments. The whole journey appears pleasing to the pilgrims accompanying Shiv Baraat. On the scene, also appears a complete shiv parivar (family of lord shiva).


The Jhanki is decorated in very traditional way that appears more appealing to the pilgrims. Sounds of the bhajans (devotional songs) on the way touches heart having very soothing taste which gives spiritual bondage and relaxation to mind. The moment creates such a scene for the strangers who vow to visit there again. The three day festival is celebrated like marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati.


The main function is held at Ransoo, base camp of Shiv Khori. From this place to the main cave one has to go 3.5 km on foot. Besides, the service of pony and palky can also be hired. Heavy rush is seen on the track during three days festival. Over 13 lakhs yatra has been recorded by the board in previous year.


Whole bazaar at Ransoo and track towards cave is decorated well in advance to welcome and give pleasant experience to the pilgrims apart from routined sanitation and cleanliness being maintained by the assistance of numerous workers. Parsad shops and eatable points remain open and food items are sold on very genuine rates.


The civil and police authorities work together to assist the tourists at every locations. Different types of committees also work in close coordination for smooth organization of the festival. Sounds of sacred mantras “Om Namo Shivaya”, Har Har Bole”, Jai Bole” etc are recited by pilgrims.


From Ransoo to main cave, visitors indeed view natural and unusual scenes appearing very rare of their kind. First is the Dhood Ganga, a water stream originating from place just below the main cave. While moving towards cave one has to cross the stream many time whose confinement within a beds and banks exult the strangers. More rejoicing and eye catching is the beauty of forest cover elevating upwards from both side of flowing stream. Much more is the scenic view of the small mountains at upper reaches guarding the track and cave like a wall. Besides, temples of gods or goddesses at different locations also fill our heart with divinity and holy taste.


Inside the cave the pilgrims enjoy very different experience. The journey inside the cave begins as well as ends in open space. Soon after entering the cave, pigeons are seen. At very small distance on the right side, darshan of Ma Parvati Rasoi (kitchen) takes one to very old time. After this, whole journey is adventurous as one has to pass through very narrow passage. Initially we have to walk straight then move down and again walk upwards just like our travelling from Katali, location of Kalika Mandir to Ranoo and then to cave. New cave which was drilled some time back is very comfortable to enter and return for all types of pilgrims.


After shoba yatra and natural views, other signs of attraction in employment fair are exhibition stalls by various departments. The stalls normally include different activities and schemes of the departments. For this time, district administration has decided to display new schemes in the stalls focusing women empowerment initiatives, digital transaction , Swach Bharat Mission and various other welfare schemes.


The cultural programme of devotional songs is organized by tourism and Information departments add more elegance and grace to the fair. It is usually organized at Base camp of the Shrine. The passersby and visitors cannot avoid sitting in this programme. Usually, artists are called from Jammu but local artists of the area are also invited to present their songs and dance items. All this enthralls the audience and adds to the vibrancy and colorfulness of the atmosphere.


On the last day wrestling competition (dangal) is organized in which wrestlers from within or outside state take part. The locals and tourists enjoy the competition. The traditional dangal marks the successful completion of the festival.


The district administration makes elaborate arrangements of transport, drinking water, power, security, fire tender, medical facilities, checking of rates of essential commodities, accommodation etc for the convenience of visitors. Besides this, some halting points are also fixed en-route Shiv Khori to control rush.


In the mela, some volunteers from SDRF, Civil Defence and Red cross are also involved for different assignments. All over the track, important announcements are made. For the safety of the luggage, cloak room is also set up near the shrine. Mela officer and yatra officer work round the clock to assist the devotees.


To reach Shiv Khori, there are two roots; one is from Jammu to Ransoo via Akhnoor and other is via Katra. The distance between Jammu and holy shrine is approximately 140 km and from katra is only 80 km. Apart from taxies and mini-bus service, online booking facility is also available for Shiv Khori. Both the roots are comfortable. Visiting Shiv Khori Mela gives a pleasant and memorable experience to the visitors. The beauty of the villages adjoining the shrine, is beyond appreciation. A board has also been constituted for the overall management and further development of the Shrine. Many development initiatives have been taken for the tourists. Recently an agreement has also been signed between Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board (SSKSB) and TV channel MH1 to telecast live aarti.


(The author is serving as District Information Officer Reasi/Ramban)



(Disclaimer: The views, observations and opinions expressed in above write up of Scoop News are strictly author's own. Scoop News does not take any onus or liability for the veracity, accuracy, validity, completeness, suitability of any of information in the above given write up. The information, facts or figures appearing in the write up in no way manifest the position, standpoint or stance of Scoop News and the Scoop News does not assume any encumbrance or answerability of the same.)


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