Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu inaugurated the International Shivratri Mahotsav in Mandi on Sunday, and said fairs and festivals were rich repositories of our diverse culture and traditions.
During the seven-day festival, the presence of deities in Mandi city adds a unique contour to "dev samagam". It is our common responsibility to protect and conserve the rich traditions and culture of the devbhoomi so coming generations could be proud of it, the chief minister said.
The festival is being held at the historic Paddal ground.
Sukhu said that despite the economic condition of the state being in disarray, there would be no let-up in development works and the state government has started special endeavours to bring the state's economy back on track to root out corruption and to save the young generation from drugs.
To improve the economic condition, a water cess has been imposed on power projects and to curb corruption, the duration of the tender process has been reduced, he said.
The chief minister stated that the upcoming budget of the present government would focus on education, health and addressing future challenges.
Earlier, the chief minister paid obeisance at the temple of the famous and principal deity Raj Madhav Rai and participated in the traditional procession from Shri Raj Madhav Rai Temple to the Paddal ground.
Thousands of devotees dressed in traditional attire participated in the procession, carrying their local deities.
More than 200 deities participated in "Shahi Jaleb", the traditional procession, from almost all parts of the district.
The chief minister also inaugurated an exhibition put up by various departments, boards and corporations, and released a colourful souvenir on the International Shivratri Fair brought out by the organising committee.
Presiding over a programme organised by the Sarv Devta Seva Samiti at the Sanskriti Sadan earlier in the day, Sukhu announced that the government would provide Rs 1 crore to the Dev Samaj and allot half bigha land around temples from the allottable pool.
He assured that adequate funds would also be made available for the maintenance of Sanskriti Sadan in Mandi so that other programmes related to the Dev Samaj could be organised in a better way.
The chief minister said the state government would fulfil all the 10 guarantees given by the Congress party in its manifesto in a phased manner.
-With PTI Input