People can now come and be a part of Shiv Baraat at the ancient Shri Shiv Khori Cave Shrine in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir. Shiv Khori Shrine Board (SKSB) is organising the three-day festival to celebrate Mahashivratri at the abode of Lord Shiva.

From Shiv Baraat to devotional songs to wrestling competitions, the mela will see a host of activities that would make the festival an experience of a lifetime for the pilgrims who throng the cave shrine to perform puja and take dharshan of the holy Shivlingam.

Situated in the Reasi district of Jammu division, Shiv Khori is a cave shrine of Lord Shiva that houses a naturally-formed Shivlingam. “The holy cave is more than 150 metres long and houses a four-feet-high Svayambhu lingam, which is bathed in a milky lime fluid dripping constantly from the ceiling. The cave is full of natural impressions and images of various Hindu deities and full of divine feelings,” Shri Shiv Khori Shrine Board (SKSB) said in a web post.

According to SKSB, the shrine is believed to have been discovered by a Muslim shepherd, who went inside the cave in search of his missing goats.

“He was startled to see a number of saints inside the cave. The astonished shepherd also started conducting puja there. Later on, after coming out of the cave, the shepherd disclosed his discovery to a number of other people despite his promise to the saints about not disclosing details about them or the cave. It is said that after narrating these details to other people, the shepherd died,” said the SKSB website.

Every year, the SKSB organises the mela to celebrate Mahashivratri at the abode of Lord Shiva. This year, the Shivratri Mela kicks off with Shiv Parvati Jhanki, traditionally known as Shiv Baraat, on Thursday.

“The Jhanki is very sacred and devotional for visitors. The local participants accompanying the baraat appear in unique dresses. Musical instruments are another attraction,” said Rajinder Singh Rana, district information officer (Reasi/Ramban), Jammu and Kashmir Information Department.