World famous International Shivratri Mahotsav of Mandi began on Sunday with Himchala Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu formally announcing the opening of the Mahotsav at the historic Paddal ground of Mandi town.
"Mandi Shivratri is a festival of Dev Samaj and it is for the first time in the history of the state that the Government is spending more than Rs one crore on Dev Samaj," CM said at the event.
He further said that the International Shivratri Mahotsav of Mandi district has cherished high traditions which depict prosperity, brotherhood and love.
"Fairs and festivals were the rich repositories of our diverse culture and tradition. Mandi Shivratri was unique in itself and known for its colourful tradition throughout the country as even in modern times, the ancient traditions are being practised during Shivratri Mahotsav. During the seven-day festival, the presence of deities in Mandi city adds a unique contour to Dev Samagam," he said.
Meanwhile, speaking about the state budget, Chief Minister said that the upcoming budget of the present government would focus on education, and health and address the challenges of the future.
"In the first cabinet meeting the old pension was reinstated by the state government while in the second meeting, the cabinet gave accord to Mukhya Mantri Sukh-Aashray Yojana under which many facilities would be provided to the orphan children. Under the scheme, the expenses of higher education of orphan children, along with pocket money of Rs. 4,000 per month and once a year a tour package with high-class stay and travel would be borne by the state government," Sukhu said.
He also said that integrated houses would be constructed at Sundernagar of Mandi district and Jawalamukhi of Kangra district at a cost of Rs 60 crore each, in which facilities on the lines of the Chief Minister's office will be provided.
Chief Minister said that till now an amount of Rs 3 crore has been deposited in the Mukhya Mantri Sukh-Aashray Kosh for which he himself has contributed his one month's salary and all the Congress MLAs have donated one lakh rupees each.
Earlier, the Chief Minister after paying obeisance at the temple of the famous and principal deity Raj Madhav Rai participated in the traditional "Shahi Jaleb", Shobha Yatra which started from Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple and culminated at the Paddal ground.
Thousands of devotees dressed in their traditional attire participated in the procession carrying their local deities dancing all the way up to the Paddal ground. Over 200 deities participated in the "Shahi Jaleb", the traditional Shoba Yatra from almost all parts of the district.
Chief Minister also participated in the Pagri ceremony and performed Puja at Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple.
Later, the Chief Minister inaugurated the exhibition at Paddal Ground set up by various Departments, Boards and Corporations and evinced keen interest in it. He also released a colourful souvenir at International Shivratri Fair brought out by the Mela Committee. (ANI)