RANCHI: Dancing to the beat of drums, thousands of devotees celebrated Mahashivratri on Friday here amid loud chantings of mantras, floral tributes and prayers. Tents were set up on the streets to provide refreshments. Marriage processions of the lord and his consort saw people carrying offerings and holding aloft pictures of Shiva and Parvati.

Parts of the city took on the colour of a carnival as processions coursed through the streets with people dancing and being cheered by others from windows and verandahs. Some of the dancers had their faces painted in brilliant hues to attract attention.

A large number of policemen travelled with the processions to ensure commuters were not inconvenienced and the procession moved smoothly. The processions were organized by various temples and colonies but the biggest one was staged by the Pahadi Mandir committee. But then every year, theirs is the best procession in town.

The Shiv temple atop the hill came alive with the scent of flowers and incense sticks as people offered water, milk, ‘dhatura’ and ‘akwan’ flowers to the lord. Long queues of devotees were seen at most temples. Manmohan, a shopkeeper near the temple, said, “This is the best day for business. Mahashivratri attracts a lot of people. I had to get extra people to help me today.”

Two teenagers dressed as Shiv and Parvati attracted a lot of attention when the Pahadi Mandir procession was winding its way through the city. Durga, Hanuman, Krishna and Ganesh also regaled viewers. When people sought the blessings of the young Shiv and Parvati, the latter got a little irritated. But Shiv enjoyed the candy offered to him.