International Maha Shivratri Festival, Mandi-2013
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Mandi Shivaratri Fair is an annual fair that is held for 7 days starting with the Hindu festival of Shivaratri, in the Mandi town (31.72°N 76.92°E) of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The Mandi Shivaratri fair is held as per Hindu calendar every year on the Krishna paksha 13th day/13th night (breaking fast/'vrata' on 14th after sunrise) of the waning moon in the month of Phalguna that corresponds to February/March as per Gregorian calendar. The festival’s popularity is widespread and hence is known as an international festival. In view of the large number of gods and goddesses that are invited to the festival from its 81 temples, Mandi town has the title of 'Varanasi of the Hills'. During 2013, the festival will be celebrated from 20 February (Shivaratri day) for seven days till 19 February 2010.
The Mandi festival or fair is particularly famous as the special fair transforms Mandi town into a venue of grand celebration when all gods and goddesses, said to be more than 200 deities of the Mandi district assemble here, starting with the day of Shivaratri. Mandi town located on the banks of the Beas River, popularly known as the "cathedral of temples", is one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh with about 81 temples of different gods and goddesses in its periphery. There are several legends linked to the celebration of this event. The festival is centred around the protector deity of Mandi "Mado Rai" (Lord Vishnu) and Lord Shiva of the Bhootnath temple in Mandi.
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