Peshawar: The Hindu community in Pakistan’s Mansehra district cut short its annual three-day Maha Shivaratri festival by a day mainly due to the prevailing security situation in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.
“We normally celebrate this festival for three days every year, but our elders decided to cut it short,” Darshan Lal, a Hindu caretaker of the nearly 1,500 years old Shiv Temple in Mansehra, was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune on Sunday.
Members of the Hindu community from across Pakistan gather at the Shiv Temple in Chiti Gati Gandiyan of Mansehra district to celebrate Shivaratri – believed to be the day when Lord Shiva and Parvati got married.
The festival began on Friday amid tight security. Over 700 fasting devotees from as far as Abbottabad, Kohat, Banu, Mardan, Peshawar and Rawalpindi performed puja and traditional rituals such as Ashnan (bathing) of Shiv with milk and honey.
The devotees on Saturday performed the rites of mehendi and Sehra bandi of Shiva. Amid reverberating sounds of bells and chants of religious slogans, devotees circled around the linga, offering their prayers, the paper said.
However, the festivities were cut short a day ahead of schedule as the pundits including Sham Lal, Chaman Lal and Ratan conducted a special puja, it said.
Explaining reasons behind cutting the festival short, Darshan Lal said there’s not sufficient space to accommodate all the devotees in the temple and its surrounding village. Secondly, owing to the security situation, the elders had decided to end their celebrations on Saturday afternoon instead of Sunday evening, he added.
The “prolonged power outages and the prevailing security situation across the country too had contributed to the pundits’ decision to change the schedule in the larger interest of their community,” he added.
All visiting devotees had left under tight security provided by the police who had provided adequate security during the festival, he said.