Bangalore, March 10 (IANS) Piety, religious fervour, day-long fasting, a night-long vigil, chanting of hymns and singing of devotional lyrics to invoke Hindu god Shiva marked the Maha Shivratri festival across Karnataka Sunday.
Thousands of devotees in cities, towns and villages across the state thronged Shiva temples after a holy dip or bath and worshipped the deity with a variety of offerings, including flowers, fruits, herbal leaves and milk.
According to legends, the grand night festival is celebrated every year on the 13th night and 14th day of the new moon in accordance with the Hindu calendar month Maagha or Phalguna to honour and please Shiva and his consort Parvati for protecting people from evil forces.
About 5,000 people, including women and children gathered at the Art of Living (AoL) Foundation's sprawling international centre on the city's outskirts to participate in the celebrations.
"For the first time ever, 240 venerated village deities have come together from across the state on the auspicious occasion," AoL founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said.
The celebrations hosted "naada devatha Bhuvaneshwari" (deity of the state) and "nagara devatha Annamma" (deity of Bangalore).
Gram devathas (village deities) from towns and hamlets in the vicinity such as Kunigal, Chennapatna, Bidadi, Harohalli, Kanakapura, Arasikere, Tumkur and Kolar also participated in the fest.
"The festival is very significant as it showcases our rich cultural heritage and keeps our ancient traditions alive and relevant," Annamma Devi Maha Samsthana trustee Shri Ramprasad said at the event.
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