Virbhadra Singh, Chief Minister led the concluding procession of week-long International Shivratri Mahotsava, celebrated traditionally in the historic and religiously famous Mandi town, accompanied by hundreds of local deities decorated in their traditional palanquins in colourful costumes with their musical instruments and followed by the Police, Home Guard, N.C.C. contingents, school children and prominent people of the district clad in colourful turbans to mark the closing ceremony of the festival at Mandi today, after he offered his obeisance at the temple of the presiding deity Lord Raj Madav Rao.
Virbhadra Singh said that Himachal Pradesh was the land of fairs and festivals, which were being celebrated the year around and people make it a point to take part actively in such festivities. He said that no country can progress having its cultural roots firmly into the social and cultural lives of the people. He said that Mandi was popularly known as the â€œChhoti Kashiâ€™ of Himachal Pradesh and had a large number of prominent temples and religious shrines. He said that Shivratri had the significance of its own and people from all walks of life assemble at Mandi to mark their presence. . He said that Mandi was the pride of the State which had maintained the best cultural traditions in the State.
Chief Minister conferred the Shivratri Kesari title over to Shri Amarjit of Sirsa, Haryana, who was awarded, â€œGurjâ€™ and cash prize of Rs. 20,000,Â Jagdish of Mandi was declared runner-up and awarded of cash prize of Rs.15,000, while Shri Rakesh Kumar of Ratti, Mandi, was declared â€˜Mandi Kesariâ€™ who got a â€˜Gurjâ€™ and a cash prize of Rs.6,000. He also gave away prizes to the winners and runner-ups of various other events organized during the Shivratri Festival.
Subhashish Panda, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman of Shivratri Festival Organizing Committee welcomed the Chief Minister and informed that 184 deities had participated in the Festival. He said that â€˜Nazranaâ€™ of the participating deities had also been increased by 10 percent. He also elaborated the activities organized to mark the celebration.