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Gaiety marks Shivaratri in Telugu states
Amaravati/Hyderabad, Feb 21 - Traditional gaiety and religious fervour marked Maha Shivaratri in the two Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Friday.
Lakhs of devotees thronged Shiva temples in both the states to offer obeisance after taking a holy dip in rivers and ponds.
The biggest celebrations were witnessed in Srisailam in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh where lakhs of pilgrims from both the Telugu states and other parts of the country took part in the rituals.
Large number of devotees reached the hill shrine of Lord Mallikarjuna Swami by foot amid chanting of 'Om Namah Shivaya'.
They took holy dip in Patala Ganga before offering prayers to the presiding deity and Goddess Bhramaramba Devi.
Serpentine queues were seen at ticket counters for 'darshan'. The temple authorities made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the rituals which will continue through the night.
Officials said special arrangements were made for physically challenged, women and elderly pilgrims.
Both Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) operated special bus services to ferry devotees to Srisailam.
Maha Shivaratri celebrations were also held with gaiety at Srikalahasti, which houses one of the famous Shiva temples in the country.
Devotees were standing in queues since early morning for 'darshan'. The temple was decked up with eight tonnes of flowers and fruits brought from Bangalore.
Thousands of devotees thronged the banks of Godavari river in Rajahmundry in East Godavari district for the holy dip. Devotes including women descended on Pushkar ghat and Kotalingala ghat since the early hours of the day for the rituals.
Other Shiva temples in the region saw huge crowd of devotees. Samarlakoa and Draksharama temples witnessed massive congregations. The devotees alleged that the temple staff were busy attending the VIPs and ignored the common people.
The biggest celebration in Telangana was held at Vemulawada Rajarajeshwara swamy temple in Rajanna Sircilla district. Endowment Minister A. Indrakaran Reddy presented silk clothes to the deity on behalf of Telangana government.
Health Minister Etela Rajender also presented silk cloths and performed special puja in the temple.
Devotees were waiting in queues since Thursday night to have 'darshan'. Devotees from various placed thronged Vemulawada.
Continuing the traditional practice, priests and officials of Tirumala Thirupati Devastanam also presented silk cloth to Rajarajeshwara swamy.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy conveyed Maha Shivratri greetings to the people.
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