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Devotees gear up to celebrate Mahashivratri

Devotees gear up to celebrate Mahashivratri

Author: Rajendra P Kerkar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: February 23, 2009
URL:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Goa/Devotees-gear-up-to-celebrate-Mahashivratri/articleshow/4171963.cms

Mahashivratri a festival dedicated to lord Shiva - will be celebrated with much fervour across the country and state on Monday. Among the Hindu triad, Shiva is believed to be the destroyer or re-creator and has traditionally been worshipped by tribal communities.

In Goa, Mangesh, Nagesh, Chandreshwar, Saptkoteshwar, Ramnath, Mahadev and Rudreshwar are the various epithets used for Shiva. In fact, the several shrines dedicated to the god across the state are only an indication of a steadfast devotion to him. Moreover, Shiva is also known as Girish - or the lord of hills - thereby explaning why several temples dedicated to him are constructed upon hilltops.

The twin temples of Chandreshwar and Bhutnath are located on a hillock near Quepem, while one of the most ancient shrines of Shiva is the Saptkoteshwar of Narve. It is more than a thousand years old if one goes by the coins and inscriptions created by the Kadambas of Goa. The temple of Malkazan at Gaodongori is popular among the Velip tribal community. Research indicates that the shrine of Mallikarjuna at Shristhal near Canacona was reconstructed in 1778 AD. Next to the temple of Rudreshwar near Sanquelim are the celebrated caves of Harvale, which bear a Shivalinga on which an inscription in Brahmi characters was made as early as the seventh century.

The hamlet of Vadawal at Bicholim contains a shrine with a difference - the Siddachi Rai. This grove is believed to contain the biggest Shivalinga in Goa. It has no walls but only verdant trees around it.

It would also be interesting to note that a water tank at Khadki in Sattari contains twin Shivalingas on a yonipitha. Further, a sacred grove of Bhuipann in the remote village of Verle at Sanguem has a roofless shrine of Saptalingeshwar which comprises seven lingas. Vathadev, near Bicholim, has a well-carved laterite Shivalinga within the river.

On the day of Mahashivratri, large numbers of devotees are expected to throng these temples to perform the ritual of abhishek. This festival is also marked by the traditional offering of 108 lotuses and leaves of the bel tree (Aegle marmelos) to the Hindu god.


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