Mandi Shivaratri Fair to commence on 24th February, 2017 in Mandi town of Himachal Pradesh. This is an annual renowned international fair that is held for 7 days starting with the Hindu festival of Shivaratri in Mandi.
The Mandi Shivaratri fair is held as per Hindu calendar every year on the Krishna paksha 13th day/13th night of the waning moon in the month of Phalguna that corresponds to February / March as per Gregorian calendar. The festival’s popularity is widespread and hence is known as an international festival.
The celebrations date back to 1526 CE when the Mandi town was founded during the rule of Ajbar Sen. He had invited all the local deities to mark the founding of the new town. Since then, the assembly of deities from hundreds of village temples during Maha Shivaratri has become a tradition. After the rule of princely states came to an end, the district administration took over the task of inviting the gods and goddesses.
The Mandi festival or fair is particularly famous as the special fair transforms Mandi town into a venue of grand celebration when all gods and goddesses, said to be more than 200 deities of the Mandi district assemble here, starting with the day of Shivaratri. The murtis of Gods from nearby village temples are carried on palanquin and they arrive at the fair ground and stay at a designated spot. The festival is centered on the protector deity of Mandi ‘Madho Rai’ (Lord Vishnu) and Lord Shiva of the Bhoothnath temple in Mandi. The town of Mandi has more than 50 temples and important ones are dedicated to Shiva.
During the first day of the fair, Lord Madho Rai, an incarnate of Lord Vishnu and the chief deity, leads the procession. The assembled deities follow him in beautifully decorated palanquins, as per protocol, and assemble at the Bhoothnath temple. Three such processions, locally called Jaleb, would be taken out on the opening, middle and concluding days of the fair.
Mandi town located on the banks of the Beas River, popularly known as the “cathedral of temples”, is one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh with about 81 temples of different gods and goddesses in its periphery. Situated some 70 km from Kullu, Mandi was gets its name from Sage Mandav who meditated here. Mandi is the second most populous town in Himachal Pradesh after Shimla. Manali, Parvati Valley, Pandoh Dam, Rewalsar Lake, Parashar Lake, Barot, and Kamru Nag Lake are the popular places to visit in Mandi.