BIJNOR: Lakhs of Shiva devotees offered Ganga water and kanwar at 450 temples in the district on the occasion of Maha Shivratri on Friday. Police personnel were deployed at all major temples to maintain law and order.

Kanwariyas from nearby areas of Amroha, Sambhal, Moradabad, Rampur, Shahjahanpur, Kashipur and Barielly districts pass through Bijnor every year on the occasion. Some of the major temples, including Jharkhendi temle near Khari, Motamahadev in Najibabad, Chamunda Mandir, Bala Ji temple and Shiv Mandir Mandawali, witness a large number of devotees thronging the Shivalayas.

According to devotee Shailendra Gaur, Jharkhendi temple in Khari village is quite popular. “A large number of devotees come here to offer Ganga water and kanwar. A fair also held at the temple,” the pilgrim said, who brought the holy Ganga water in a kanwar from Haridwar.

Speaking on the occasion, Arvind Sharma, a priest said, “It is a Vedic and legendary festival.

On this day, Lord Shiva got married. Devotees fetch the Ganga water from Haridwar and offer it on Shivlingas. However, in some parts of western UP, including Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Bagpat, Shamli and Saharanpur, they fetch the water in monsoon season. But the main Maha Shivratri is observed on Falgun Krishna Chaturdashi, which was on Friday.”

The Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shiva to Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand. After filling the Ganga water in their pots, the kanwariyas carry the covered water-pots on a bamboo pole slung across their shoulders and cover their journey afoot.