World famous International Shivratri Mahotsav of Mandi began today with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur formally announcing the opening of the Mela at historic Paddal ground of Mandi town.Earlier, the Chief Minister after paying obeisance at the temple of famous and principal deity Raj Madhav Rai, participated in the traditional Jaleb, Shobha Yatra which started from Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple and culminated at the Paddal ground. Thousands of people dressed in their traditional dress participated in the procession carrying their local deities dancing all the way up to the Paddal ground. Over 216 deities participated in the Jaleb, the traditional Shoba Yatra from almost all parts of the district.The Chief Minister also participated in the Pagri ceremony and performed Puja at Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple. While addressing the people at historic Paddal Ground, the Chief Minister said that offerings to our God and Goddesses in the era of Covid-19 have also been adversely affected. Keeping this in view, the State Government has decided to double the honorarium of Bajantris by announcing 100% increase in it. He said that last year Rs. 9.52 lakh were spent on the honorarium of Bajantris, whereas Rs. 19 lakh would be spent during this year.He announced 50 percent increase in the expenditure for the ration of the deities. He said that last year Rs. 16.38 lakh were spent on it whereas this year about Rs. 25 lakh would be spent. The Chief Minister also announced 33 percent increase in the Nazarana of the deities. He said that about Rs. 50 lakh were given as Nazarana and honorarium last year whereas this time Rs. 75 lakh would be spent on this which shows the commitment of the State Government towards the deities and our faith in Dev Sanskriti.
Jai Ram Thakur said that fairs and festivals were the rich repository of our versatile culture and tradition. He said that Mandi Shivratri was unique in itself and known for its colourful tradition throughout the country. The Corona pandemic adversely affected celebration of these fairs and festivals during the last about two years, but fortunately now the Covid-19 cases have reduced considerably in the State. He said that this was possible due to the indigenous vaccine provided to the people of the country by our scientists. He said that the biggest vaccination campaign of world was successfully launched and completed in the country under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Chief Minister said that the present State Government completed four years in office about two month ago. The Prime Minister graced this historic occasion by participating in the four years function held at this historic ground and inaugurated and laid foundation stones of developmental projects worth Rs. 11,500 crore. He said that schemes such as Sahara Yojna, Grihini Suvidha Yojna, Mukhyamantri HIMCARE, Mukhyamantri Swabalamban Yojna, Shagun Yojna, Social Security Pension, etc. have proved boon to lakhs of people of the State.
Jai Ram Thakur said that the State Government was working with a motto of Sewa and Samarpan and ensured welfare of every section of the society. He said that the State Government has decided to open another State university at Mandi which would be made functional from this academic session. He said that Rs.175 crores Shiv Dham was coming up at Mandi and work was going in war footing. Once completed, it would be an added attraction for the people visiting the State. He said that SDM Office has been opened at Kotli and Rs. 35 crore Sanskriti Sadan was dedicated by him today. He said that work on Rs. 100 crore parking project was also in progress and would be completed soon to facilitate the people of Mandi town. He said that Rs. 27 crore college building was also coming up in the town. Later, the Chief Minister inaugurated the exhibition at Paddal Ground set up by various Departments, Boards and Corporation and evinced keen interest in it.Chief Minister also released a colourful souvenir on International Shivratri Fair brought out by the Mela Committee. Deputy Commissioner Mandi and Chairman International Shivratri Mahotsav Organizing Committee Arindham Chaudhary, welcomed the Chief Minister and other dignitaries present on the occasion.
He said that Shivratri fair of Mandi was a unique cultural repository of Himachal Pradesh. He said that this year as many as 216 deities have been invited to participate in this fair. He said that exhibition of the glorious and golden journey of the State and seven cultural nights would prove main attraction of the fair.Wife of Chief Minister and Chairperson Hospital Red Cross Welfare Society Dr. Sadhna Thakur, Jal Shakti Minister Mahinder Singh Thakur, Education Minister Govind Singh Thakur, MLAs Anil Sharma, Inder Singh Gandhi, Jawahar Thakur, Vinod Kumar and Prakash Rana, former MLA D.D. Thakur, Chairman Milkfed Nihal Chand Sharma, Chairman Waqf Board Mohmamad Rajbali, Brig. Khushal Thakur, District BJP President Ranveer Singh, Chairperson State Tourism Development Board Rashmi Dhar Sood, General Secretary Child Welfare Council Payal Vaidya, Mayor Mandi Municipal Corporation Deepali Jaswal, Chairman Zila Parishad Pal Verma, Superintendent of Police Shalini Agnihotri, Chief Engineer PWD Ajay Gupta were also present on the occasion among others.