Maha Shivaratri, otherwise known as Jagar, is observed in a ritualistic way with much serenity to appease Lord Shiva.
Shivaratri is celebrated on the 13th or 14th day of the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of Phalgun (February-March), according to the Hindu calendar.
Daylong fasting and offerings of bael (wood apple) leaves are two significant practices on this day.
Hymns in praise of Shiva are chanted throughout the night because it is believed that the one who does so with full devotion is freed of all sins.
Most of the people observe fast on the day till "mahadeepa" is raised atop Shiva temples at around 10 p.m. on the day.
"We are trying to coordinate with servitors and others associated with the arrangements to conduct the rituals at the temple in an organised manner," said the president of the Lingaraj Temple Trust Board, Manoj Kumar Mohanty.
Devotees in large numbers have started visiting several shrines including Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar, Loknath in Puri, Dhabaleswar Peeth in Cuttack, Akhandalmani in Bhadrak, Panchalingeswar in Balasore, Chandrasekhar at Kapilas in Dhenkanal, Ladukeshwar in Nayagarh and Gupteshwar in Koraput.
"It is a very auspicious day as people keep fast and pray to the Lord. We eagerly wait for the 'mahadeepa darshan' as devotees break their fast after completion of this ritual," said Priyanka, a devotee.
Adequate security measures have been taken to ensure smooth 'darshan' for devotees in the Shiva shrines.
As many as 25 platoons of the police force have been deployed for smooth 'darshan' of the Lord at Lingaraj temple. Fire vehicles have been kept ready as a precautionary measure.
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