The Great Night of Lord Shiva, also known as Maha Shivratri, celebrated throughout the country, is celebrated in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, in a very unique way. Visitors from far locations travel here to take in the Shivratri mela celebrations and to learn more about the area.
The celebrations are the subject of several stories. While Shivratri is only observed for a maximum of two days in other regions of the nation, the celebrations stretch 7 days here. Let us know more about the Maha Shivratri mela of Mandi.
The Maha Shivratri Mela is held in the Himachal Pradesh town of Mandi. The Shivratri Mela, also known as the Mandi Mela, draws thousands of devotees from all across the state to Mandi, the state’s cultural capital, to rejoice in witnessing all of the Gods and Goddesses of the region.
The Shivratri Mela in Mandi Himachal Pradesh begins on Maha Shivratri and continues for seven days. Since Maha Shivratri falls on February 18 this year, the mela will begin on that day and last for the next 7 days.
History of the Shivratri Mela Mandi
Legends have been told that the Ruler Iswari Sen is linked to the celebration of Shivratri in Mandi. Iswari Sen was held captive after he lost to Sansar Chand of Punjab. He was released close to the day of Maha Shivratri. On the day all the people of the region come to see the king, Shivratri is celebrated with great pomp and show.
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Festivities at the Mandi Shivratri Mela
The Mandi Mela lasts 7 days, with worshippers and their Gods staying in various parts of the city and marching to the Paddal also known as the fair ground. These gods and goddesses are all seated at Paddal, each one clothed in their appropriate attire. During the Shivratri Mela, this fair is set up with games, rides, and vendors for enjoyment. Mandi, sometimes referred to as the Varanasi of the Hills, earned its moniker as a result of the abundance of Gods and Goddesses there.
The Bhoothnath temple in Mandi is considered one of Lord Shiva’s most important sites in the area. It is quite busy with worshippers and gods during the days of the Maha Shivratri Mela in and around this temple. The entire area of Mandi is illuminated by deities on palanquins travelling to the fairground and people seeking heavenly grace from them.
The anecdotes about each god and their locale make this Shivratri Mela quite distinctive. It’s amazing to see the city’s festival commemorated in this manner. Additionally, there is a huge festival in the vicinity of the Trilok Nath and Panchvaktra temples.
The zeal and enthusiasm amongst the people of the region are depicted in the processions. It is believed that more than 200 deities attend the mela and bless their devotees who worship them.
Deities at the Maha Shivratri Mela
The Shivratri Mela has been celebrated across the state for centuries; however, in Mandi, it has ties to the royal dynasty that previously governed here, and it has had enormous significance since then. The mela is prepared months before Maha Shivratri because deities are meant to be brought here and their worshippers are provided distinct locations to dwell.
The deities are carried on a palanquin, the ends of which rest on the devotees’ shoulders. It has been stated that the deities communicate their feelings by swaying their palanquin back and forth and sideways, especially when meeting another god or being worshipped by a specific devotee. They claim that the deity grants their worshippers the power to carry them over large distances or when they have to perform in a particular place. Such magic is truly a sight to see while visiting the region.
Key Events at Mandi Shivratri Mela
The Shobha Yatra, or parade, begins at the famed Bhoothnath Temple. The chief pandits undergo morning rituals of adorning and worshipping the deities before taking them. The idols are then carried to the Madho Rai Temple to pay their respects to Lord Vishnu and then taken to the main fairground. Madho Rai ji is the town’s god, and the procession is known as “Jaleb” in the local tongue. The procession of each god is accompanied by drums and trumpets playing enthusiastically in celebration of the day.
Fair at Paddal
The fair is held in the Paddal ground, where vendors from all across the state gather to display their native artefacts, handlooms, and food products. There are also food stalls with local cuisine being served at the fairground. In recent years, the event has included performances by Bollywood and Punjabi performers in the evening.
On the final day of the Mandi Shivratri Mela, all the deities pay their respects to Lord Shiva and gather in the fairground or Paddal. The trumpets and drums continue to play as they all return to their respective homes. Finally, the devotees carry them in palanquins.
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How to reach Mandi, Himachal Pradesh?
It takes around 8 hours and 40 minutes to cover a distance of 415 km to reach Mandi via the NH44.
It takes around 4 hours and 30 minutes to cover a distance of 143 km to reach Mandi via the NH154.
It takes around 3 hours 37 minutes to cover a distance of 125 km to reach Mandi via the NH154 and NH205
The nearest railway station to Mandi is Una Railway Station which is 3 hours and 41 minutes away by road via NH 503 A. The next railway station close to the city is the Joginder Nagar Railway Station which is 72 km away and takes about 2 hours and 10 minutes to reach via the NH154.
The nearest airport to Mandi is the Bhuntar Airport, Kullu, which is 76.5 km away and takes about 2 hours to reach via NH 3.
It’s an honour to be a part of this celebration. The great event is a must-see since it gives insights into the state’s rich culture and traditions. The melody of the drums and trumpets fills one with a heavenly energy, inviting them to join the 7-day festival. The Maha Shivratri Mela also provides guests with the opportunity to learn about the royal palace, and sample the local food.