Kesinga: Mahashiv Yatra, celebrated with much fanfare in Titlagarh town of Bolangir district, is observed for seven days on occasion of Maha Shivratri every year. The festival, however, was a low key affair this year.
The Yatra has been reduced from seven days to two days sans devotees.
In order to avoid crowding at Dhabaleshwar temple, the administration sealed off the east and north roads. The devotees were seen offering prayers 300 metres away from the temple.
The temple is atop the hill and at the foothill, there is a vast open space locally known as Yatra Ground. The fair continues for seven days starting from Maha Shivratri. Artisans and businessmen from different parts of the state such as Cuttack, Bhubaneswar, Puri and Berhampur gather here in large number.
Traders from state like Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and West Bengal also put up their stalls here and do business for seven days. There are food courts as well. Varieties of amusement rides are the prime attraction of the fair. Lakhs of devotees visit the fair. Dhabaleswar Mahadev Trust organizes this fair.
But this year, the Mahashiv Yatra is devoid of all such activities owing to COVID-19 restrictions.
However, the rituals associated with the temple are being observed amid COVID-19 guidelines. A ‘yajna’ started inside the temple will continue till March 14, it was learnt.