Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu will inaugurate the seven-day-long International Shivratri Fair on February 19 in Mandi, the District Commissioner said on Saturday.
According to Arindam Chaudhary, the Mandi DM, and also Chairman of Mandi Shivratri Mela Committee, this year 215 hill gods have been invited to the fair, and 150 are expected to attend it. Chief Deity Kamrunag, popularly known as Bada Dev (God of rains), arrived in Mandi town on Friday.
The deity's contingent was received on the Mandi border by a team of administration along with representatives of the Devta Mela Committee. The contingent first performed a puja at the principal deity of Mandi town, Madho Rao Temple, and then left for the Temple of Tarna Mata on a hill in the town.
On the opening day of the fair, a procession led by Dev Madho Rao, and attended by hill gods and goddesses, would be taken out from the DC Office to Paddle Ground, known as "Jaleb." The procession is the main attraction of the fair. This year, on public demand, all six cultural nights will be held at Seri Manch in the middle of town after 10 years.
Earlier, the venue of the cultural nights was shifted to the Paddle stadium citing congestion in the town. About 1,400 police personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order and manage traffic during the fair, said SP Mandi Shalini Agnihotri.
The entire Mandi town has been decorated and all necessary arrangements for the fair have been made, officials said.