Shivaratari annual festival to commence from March 10 in Mansehra

MANSEHRA, Mar 08 (APP): Three days long 17th Shivartari annual festival, to commence from 10th March and conclude on 12th March at Shiva temple Chitti Ghatti Mansehra, would be attended by up to 1500 Hindu devotees from all over Pakistan and few from the UK.

Talking to APP here on Monday, Priest Darshan Lal Lingham said that 16 years back we have started the annual Shivaratri festival where up to 200 Hindu devotees participated and every year the number of participants has been increasing.

Last year around 1200 people from KP, Punjab and Sindh arrived at the temple, he added. Darshan Lal disclosed that besides traditional invitations to local Hindu community we have also invited the Hindus from around the world on the temple’s Facebook page and mentioned that Pakistan is a peaceful country where interfaith harmony is exemplary.

Giving the details of Hindu devotees who are visiting the temple, he said, that they are mostly from Peshawar, Nowshera, Mardan, Kohat, Rawalpindi, Sialkot, Islamabad, Hangu and a few from the UK also.

Darshan Lal stated that as the numbers of devotees are increasing every year we also need extra facilities including washrooms, langar khana accommodation, moreover land grabbers also captured a vast area of the temple whose case is under trial.

He also thanked the KP government, police and district administration Mansehra who have facilitated those devotees during the past festivals. Last year Deputy Commissioner Mansehra deployed 700 policemen and elite force officials for security arrangements for the three days long Shivaratri festival.

Replying to a question about the accommodations of the devotee Darshan Lal said, “we have no place to provide residential facilities to the visitors but locals of the village Chitti Gatti are very cooperative, particularly, Nawaz Khan former Nazim, and other neighbors provide us their houses for the stay of the visitors”.

Mansehra Shiv Temple is one of the oldest temple still in existence and use in Pakistan, dating back at least 2000 years. In 1947-48, it was forcibly seized by some local land mafia group who illegally occupied the local property of weaker folk and they also sealed up the temple on this site, covering about an acre or more of land close to Chitti Gatti village.

From 1948 to 2008 the Shiv temple was sealed up abandoned and out of bounds to local or any other Hindus. The temple had several very significant and unusual features, including the famous ‘Durga cave’ up on a hill beyond it, where there was a small cave with a lovely freshwater spring bubbling out of the ground, where religious pilgrims to the temple take bathe purify themselves and offer respects to the goddess Durga, before going down to the main Shiv temple and one of the oldest and biggest ‘Shiva Lingam’ idols anywhere in this region, inside a special little sanctum that in fact precedes this old temple by at least 800 years.

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