LORD SHIVA FEATURED ON ALL FACES: BHAVNATH FAIR

Posted: November 15, 2011 in Colors of Culture and Heritage, The NamoLeague Times
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The celebration on the foothills of Mount Girnar takes place on Maha Shivratri every year and is entirely dedicated to Lord Shiva

VIBRANT GUJARAT is not just a coined term. It finds proofs in the people, activities, fairs, festivals and variances of the state. Gujarat comes alive with much enthusiasm and energy at the times of celebration. Its vibrancy is witnessed by the people, who without any differences come under one roof to rejoice at the fairs and festivals. One such charming fair, woven with culture, traditions, heritage and rituals is the mammoth Bhavnath Fair of Junagadh in Gujarat.

Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the pious occasion of Maha Shivratri every year. It is a five-day extravaganza commencing from the Hindu calendar date of Magh Vad 11, during the months of February-March.


HARD-CORE BELIEVERS OF LORD SHIVA

The much-famed Bhavnath Fair is celebrated on the foothills of Mount Girnar. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva; Bhavnath Mahadev Temple is the host for the fair. The temple is placed near Damodar Kund. It celebrates the vitality of the Shiva cult. During Shivratri – the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva, according to the Hindu myth, a five day Bhavnath Fair, is held with great zeal.

The place buzzes and bustles with the presence of diehard worshippers of Lord Shiva. They believe that the Lord himself visits this place on Maha Shivratri. Mount Girnar is home to 9 immortal Nathas, and 84 Siddhas, all of whom are believed to visit the shrines in invisible spirits on the occasion!

Pilgrims take a 7 meters long Parikrama of the Holy Girnar before visiting the fair. About one lakh visitors throng the place for the auspicious celebrations, most of them from Gujarat and Marwad. The lively and colorful local communities of Ahir and Mer are the most attractive among them all.

DISTINCT VISITORS AT THE FAIR – THE NAGA SADHUS

A distinct attraction of the Bhavnath Fair is the participation of the Naga Sadhus aka Naga Bavas. These sages are the ones who actually commence the fair celebrations. They are practically nude. A strong belief among these sages is that the whole world is their home and the sky is their cover. They need no clothes to cover their bodies, as they are ‘sky dressed’. They have accepted nakedness as a part of life.

THE MIDNIGHT CELEBRATIONS

The Bhavnath Fair begins with rituals on the moonless night of Maha Shivratri. It is believed that Lord Shiva performed his dance of destruction ‘Tandava’ on this night and a Mahapuja was performed to honor this action of the Lord. The Naga Sadhus arrive seated on elephants. They are seen holding flags and are all decked up with ornaments. They lead a procession to the Bhavnath Temple that marks the commencement of the mystic celebration. This religious march on a dark night is one of the grand attractions of this fair.

THE RHYTHMIC PROCESSION

The Naga Sadhus blow conch shells, tungis, turis and drums that create a religious and emotive atmosphere. This procession is then followed by an exhibition of the grand sword fights and other activities by the sages. The wrestling at the akhadas is a unique blend of dance and martial arts. The march reaches the Temple’s Mrigi Kund at 12 in the midnight.

THE STORY BEHIND MRIGI KUND

A belief of the Puranic era has it that the Shiva Ling at the Bhavnath Temple has emerged out of its own divine intentions, without any human intervention. The Mrigi Kund is considered auspicious as while travelling over Mount Girnar, Shiva and Parvati’s divine garment fell over the place. Shiva worshippers strongly believe in this legend and even today, the Naga Sadhus are known to bathe in the holy Mrigi Kund before joining the Maha Shivratri procession.

OTHER ACTIVITIES AT THE FAIR GROUND

Apart from the offerings to the deities and the decked up Shiva temples, there are performances of dance, music and traditional Bhavai theatre. The colorfully clad tribes with dazzling ornaments at the fair are a treat to the eyes.

Stalls are set up for copper and brass utensils, idols, rosaries and holy beads brought from Ayodhya and Mathura. Mouthwatering sweets at the food stalls and the free meals served by the organizers to the devotees are yet another motivation for a visit to the fair!

JOYOUSNESS IN THE AIR!

Bhavnath Fair is an example of the strong beliefs and rituals of the people of Gujarat. It is a place to lose oneself to the rhythmic experience and honor the 5000-year old Hindu traditions. It captures the senses of all humankind. The richness of our heritage is on display at the fair.

The Bhavnath Fair is a look into the roots of our culture and traditions. It is a real beauty, equally passionate, intense and mystical.

Do not miss on the magnificence of the event and get enthralled from head to toe – The hustle-bustle begins on 3rd March 2011.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=bhavnath%20fair_513

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