AN AGE-OLD CELEBRATION OF MEWAR ROYALITY AND PUBLIC IN HONOUR OF LORD SHIVA
For people in Mewar, Mahashivarati has a special significance as they and the rulers of Mewar are ardent followers of Shaivism. All through the ages, the Mewar Maharanas have considered Eklingnathji as the master and they themselves as mere ministers who carried out the Lord’s orders.
Mahashivaratri has a long history. During Sagarmanthan, churning of the ocean by gods and demons, there emerged a pitcher full of deadly poison that could destroy the whole universe. So frightened were all of them that they rushed to Lord Shiv for protection. The kind Lord drank the poison and kept it in his throat that became blue. Because of this miracle, Shiv is also called Neelkanth. To commomerate this event, Shivaratri is celebrated with great enthusism.
People of Mewar get busy in ‘Shiv aradhana’. They fast and pray the whole day and night as it is believed that one who does so on this highly auspicious day gets one thousand times more ‘punya’ as compared to performing austerities on any other day of the year. A special form of worship called ‘rudrabhishek’ is performed not only in temples but also in several homes. The offering of the three-leaf ‘bel patra’ with recitation of a ‘mantra’ is most auspicious as it is believed that goddess Laxmi resides in it. With deep devotion are sung hymns in praise of the Lord.
Also organized is a huge procession that is enthusiastically welcomed by different sections of the society as it wends its way through the main roads of the town. Its main attractions are tableaous of the twelve Jyotirlingas mounted on attractive camel carts. Other tableaous are of different gods and goddesses, saints, folk deities, freedom fighters etc. Other special features include a number of attractively decorated horses, camels and elephants, ‘akharas’ performing daring feats, bands playing lilting music, ‘bhajan mandalis’ etc.
Shiv Mandirs in and around Udaipur are thronged by a huge number of devotees. At Mahakaleshwar Mandir on Rani Road, the biggest Shiv temple in
the town, Brahmins perform Shastradhara Abhishek with the recitation of Vedic Mantras. Devotees near Picchola Lake worship the black stone idol of Shiv with three ‘netras’ at the Gadia Devra Mandir. A good number of devotees worship the not so old black stone idol at Badleshwar Mandir in Dhanmandi. The Mandir gets its name after the huge ‘Bad’ tree in its premises. Also crowded is the ancient Shiv Mandir at Gangoudhava in Ayad. Rituals are also performed at Neelkanth Mahadeo Mandir in Samore Bagh near City Palace where the ‘lingam’ is believed to have appeared itself and not built by anyone. The Neelkanth Mahadeo Mandir, near Fatehsagar, where Maharana Pratap used to worship, also draws a big crowd. There are a large number of devotees at Hajareshwar Mandir near Delhigate, that has one thousand ‘lingams’ engraved on the idol. Devotees also gather at Bhikari Nath Ka Math, in Bhupalpura that it is said to be in existence before Udaipur was founded and where the ‘lingam’ was brought from Kailashpuri. At the 350-year old Jawan Sarupeshwar Mandir built by Maharana Jawansingh and located outside Badipol, City Palace, the worships starts early in the morning.
Devotees go to the famous Ubeshwar Mahadev Mandir situated behind Sajjangarh. It is said that when Maharana Pratap was worshiping there, the Mughal army tried to attack him. Suddenly, the ‘lingam’ burst and a big flock of bees came out of it and drove away the enemy. The self-appeared ‘lingam’ made of rock in a cave at Jhameshwar, where seers have done ‘tapasya’, draws a big number of devotees. Located near a stream, Nandeshwar Mahadev Mandir is the venue of ‘ratri jagran’, ‘bhajans’ and ‘kirtan’. Also visited are temples such as Baijnath Mahadeo Mandir, Sisarma built by Mata Devkunwar mother of Maharana Sangramsingh Second. Nestled among hills on three sides, Amrakhji Mandir near Chirwa valley and believed to be the venue of austerities performed by Ambreesh Rishi, attracts a good number of devotees. So also the ancient Vameshwar Mahadeo Mandir at Paldi on Udaipur-Iswal road that had been a ‘math’ of the famous Lakuish sect, and the over two-centuries old Raj Rajeshwar Shivalaya, situated at Debari Dwar, the east gateway to Udaipur. A big ‘mela’ is also held at Jargaji, the second highest peak in Rajasthan after Guru Shikhar, Mount Abu located on Udaipur-Ranakpur road at a distance of about 90 Km. from Udaipur. At Gupteshwar Mandir situated on the top of a hill near Titardi, there is ‘jagran’ and singing of ‘bhajans’.
A large number of devotees go to Eklingnath Mandir in Kailashpuri. Many of them do ‘padyatra’ singing ‘bhajans’ and chanting ‘mantras’ that echo in the ancient Chirwa valley. There is normal ‘trikal puja’ late in the night and then starts special rituals that continue through out the night and culminate at about noon the next day.
The large number of Shavites and others in Mewar celebrate Maha shivratri with great enthusiasm.