Pictures: Kanav Vaidya

Historic Mandi Shivratri Fair began on Friday with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur formally announcing the opening of the Mela at historic Paddal ground in Mandi. Thousands of people dressed in their traditional attire participated in the procession carrying their local deities dancing all the way upto Paddal ground. Over 150 deities participated in the ‘Jaleb’, the traditional Shobha Yatra from almost all parts of the district. The theme of this year’s event is the fifty glorious years of Himachal Pradesh.

Starting of the Mandi Shivaratri festival is linked to its ruler Ishwari Sen. Ishawri Sen was held a prisoner for 12 years after he lost his kingdom in the war waged by Sansar Chand of Punjab, in 1792. He was released by the Gurkha invaders who had invaded the Kangra and Mandi states. Afterwards, the Gurkhas’ restored the Mandi state to Ishwari Sen. He was given a reception on his return to Mandi, his state capital. On this occasion, the King invited all hill deities of the Kingdom and held a grand celebration, and this day happened to be the Shivratri festival day. Since then, the practice of holding the Mandi fair during Shivaratri has been observed every year at Mandi.

Pictures: Kanav Vaidya

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.