Devotees brave scorching heat for divine wedding

May 29th, 2009 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, May 29 (IANS) Nearly 300,000 devotees participated in the wedding processions of two Hindu deities, part of an annual local festival in an Orissa town, despite the scorching heat, officials said Friday.
Every year, residents of Sambalpur, some 317 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, organise the Sital Sasthi festival during which the wedding of Hindu god Shiva and his consort Parvati is re-enacted.

“The wedding processions were held peacefully Thursday night. Nearly three lakh (300,000) devotees participated,” an official of the district police control room told IANS.

The town recorded 44.8 degree temperature Thursday but that did not stop devotees from attending the celebration in large numbers, he said, adding that thousands also attended other rituals Friday.

The seven-day festival began May 25 and like every year, people from other districts and also from neighbouring states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh came to participate, he said.

During the marriage, the devotees play the roles of the relatives of the deities.

The decorated idols arrive on chariots in the procession, accompanied by the beats of cymbals and drums, fireworks and dancing eunuchs.

Those acting as Parvati’s paternal family invite the residents of their neighbourhood to a feast as in any Hindu marriage. The marriage takes place amid the chanting of Vedic hymns.

Innumerable couples offer to perform the role of the parents of Lord Shiva and Parvati, but the organising committee finally selects them.

At least eight couples backed by the residents in the city have performed the role of he parents this year and the marriages were performed in eight places, he said.

“We are fortunate that the committee selected us as one of the couples to act as the parent of Parvati,” Ajit Panda and his wife Bijaylaxmi told IANS.

It is believed that King Ajit Singh of the Chowhan dynasty started the festival sometime between 1695 and 1766.

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