DEVOTEES thronged temples across Kashmir on the occasion of Mahashivratri on Friday, holding special prayers and paying obeisance since early morning.
Amid the chants of ‘Bam Bam Bole,’ the biggest congregation of devotees in the Valley was witnessed at the ancient Shankracharya temple, located on a hillock overlooking Srinagar, where devotees are holding day-long special prayers.
Many devotees especially visit Srinagar from across the country to pray at the Shankracharya temple. Among the devotees at the temple were Mohan Kumar from Bihar and Shri Ram from Hyderabad.
“I have come from Bihar especially to participate in the special prayers at the Shankracharya temple; a visit to the temple on Mahashivratri is considered very auspicious,” Mohan Kumar said.
“I am feeling really good on visiting the temple. It was a one-hour trek from the nearest roadhead to the temple on the hillock, but I felt very good. I always wished to visit Kashmir on this holy day -- today my dream has come true,” said Shri Ram.
The temples in other parts of the Valley are also holding prayers to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva. “We are holding special prayers for peace in Jammu and Kashmir; we wish the problems in Kashmir and elsewhere in the country come to an end and brotherhood and harmony prevails,” Rakesh Kumar, a priest at the Shankaracharya temple, said.
Mahashivratri marks the culmination of a three-day festival for the Kashmiri Pandit community. Special prayers are held on the first two days, with a feast on the third day, in which their relatives as well as members from the Muslim community participate. In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or phonetically simpler Haerath or Herath by Shiva faithfuls of the Kashmir region.