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HP Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today inaugurated the week-long International Shivratri fair of Mandi town which is being celebrated here for over the past 390 years when Raja Ajber Sen ruled the hill state and laid the foundation stone of the present Mandi town. As many as 150 gods and goddesses converged on Mandi town from all parts of the district. The most welcome and unique feature of the fairs was that god Dev Prashar also participated in the fairs this year after a long gap of 22 years.
Maha Shivratri was celebrated last night when all gods and goddesses paid their obeisance to Lord Shiva at the temple of Bhunath. On arrival in the town the Chief Minister performed prayers at the temple of Madhav Rai, the ruling deity of the Mandi State since th days of Raja Surya Sen. A grand Shobha Yatra led by Madhav Rai and followed by chief minister, officials and elite of the town marched through the streets of the town. For the first time this year the chief minister participated in an open jeep probably due to his old age and failing health. Many of his cabinet colleagues and legislators also joined the Shobha Yatra (Jaleb).
The cup-shaped town resounded with the melodious tunes of hill-orchestra and typical hill instruments. Dressed in local garments singing and dancing highlanders entertained the town people who make a year-long wait for the historic fairs. Speaking the occasion chief minister said although the fairs and festivals had played a great role in the preservation of the cultural heritage, yet with the passage of time the fairs had assumed a new and modern dimension of educating the rural population about the latest techniques of science and technology in the spheres of agriculture, horticulture, flori-culture and animal husbandry to enhance their income through exhibitions. Also for the first time entire Padal Stadium has been provided a rain cover to avoid losses to the traders and artists participating from all over the country and mar the cultural programs entailing huge financial losses.
Deputy Commissioner and chairman Shivratri Meala Committee, Sandeep Kadam, made this year’s fairs the best in the past over 40 years. The town is neat and clean and the Shivratri Flags on both sides of the roads add a fantastic look, During the tenure of Kadam Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh was awarded Swach Sarvekshana award among the 22 hill districts of the country. Prime minister, Narendra Modi presented him the award in New Delhi.