In line with the composite cultural traditions rooted in the city, the role of Shiva will be played by Saandh Banarasi while that of Goddess Parvati will be played by Badruddin Ahmad.
Celebration of Mahashivratri in Varanasi’s Vishwanath temple has been unmatched across the country in its grandiose scale and festive mood. Devotees from different parts of the country and foreign tourists alike experience a magnetic pull and frequent the city year after year on Shivraatri. A three-day Shiv Mahotsava is being organised in the city from February 21 to February 23 this year. The major attraction of the celebration will be Shiv Baaraat (wedding procession of Lord Shiva) which passes through major routes of the city taking along hundreds of devotees and worshippers in its midst. Formally organised for the first time in the year 1983 in Varanasi, the Shiv Baaraat has gained currency in every part of the country with every Shiva temple following the suit. Trained performers play the role of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and roam around the city giving their blessing to the people. Apart from the central protagonists, a host of other artists dressed as gods and goddesses also make an appearance in the procession donned in their respective dresses. Dances, religious songs and dishes wrapped with a layer of Bhaang (cannabis) fuse into the procession.
This year, the procession will begin from Mahamritunjay temple at 7 pm and will culminate at Dashashvamedh Ghat. In line with the composite cultural traditions rooted in the city, the role of Shiva will be played by Saandh Banarasi while that of Goddess Parvati will be played by Badruddin Ahmad, according to a report in Patrika. A novel feature of Varanasi’s Shiv Baarat for some years has been the selection of a contemporary topic which gets highlighted throughout the festival. High incidence of female foeticide, surgical strike against terrorists lodged in Pakistan were some of the topics which were brought to the centre stage in recent years. Inflation and price rise has been chosen as the theme of this year. The food inflation suddenly spiked last year with onion and tomato going out of reach of the common people. In order to ensure a smooth organisation of the festival, the government machinery has taken charge of the affairs with officials working on the routes, traffic congestion and other issues. The city administration remains on the tenterhooks more so because of the high profile status of the city.