DatesTo be Announced
A large number of festivals and fairs are celebrated in India each year as a part of the cultural front. Various such festivals include the Tarnetar fair, Dang Darbar fair, Modhera fair and so on, which are celebrated by the local people with great vigour.
The Bhavnath fair is one such festival held in the months of February - March during Mahashivratri. It is held for five days at the Bhavnath Mahadev temple in the Girnar district of Junagadh, Gujarat. At the midnight of the grand festival of Mahashivratri, which honours Lord Shiva, and a grand mahapuja is performed by the devotees.
The Naga Sadhus (naked sages) arrive at the ritual, seated on elephants and wearing multiple, heavy ornaments. They usually hold flags and blow conch shells as an indication of the beginning of the grand puja. This sound sweeps through the entire crowd of devotees and fills everyone up with great festive energy, pomp and excitement.
They believe that Lord Shiva himself comes down and visits the Girnar shrine on the night of Mahashivratri which embarks it as one among the nine immortal Naths (saints) and eighty-four Siddhas (learned masters).
A large number of pilgrims and devotees perform a parikrama - encircling of the Girnar hills before becoming a part of the fair, considering it as a holy ritual. This parikrama is of about thirty-six kilometres and is done by the devotees on the belief that they can obtain blessings of the Lord. It is also a great opportunity for nature fanatics and trekking lovers as the parikrama brings them in direct contact with nature’s hidden treasure at the hills.
Another interesting ritual consisting of an amalgamation of dance and martial arts is performed by the naga sadhus at wrestling grounds known as akhada on the night prior to the puja. They make it a point to take a bath in the sacred Mrigi kund of the Bhavnath Mahadev temple before joining the rituals or the procession.
Approximately around one lac people visit the Bhavnath fair each year. Apart from that, tourists from foreign countries too, visit the fair in a strikingly high number. Amongst such visitors, the Ahir and Mer tribes of Junagadh are quite prominent. The festival brings about an unparalleled gathering of various cultural groups who visit the fair to soak the divine energy and witness the grandeur of ritual and pujas performed for Lord Shiva.
The fair brims with religious and festive vibes on each of the five days as the number of tourists only increases day by day. Various stalls of handicrafts, art and gorgeous accessories are set up for the visitors to indulge in the local heritage and take back a piece of the culture along with themselves.
This advocates the fact that the Bhavnath fair does not focus only on religious matters but also involves cultural matters and brings people closer to both God and Mother Nature. That's exactly what makes it worth visiting and that's exactly why hundreds of thousands of people take part in the fair during the Mahashivratri period.
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