Gujarat is a pulsing land of enterprising people with spiritualism. The celebrations for traditional religious festivals are probably the highest in the country. Lord Shiv is the third God of Hindu Triad (Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh) and is the destroyer of all evil. With over 1008 names, he is represented as a 'linga' - a symbol of regeneration.
The Bhavnath Mahadev Mela is held at the Bhavnath Mahadev Temple, situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in the city of Junagadh. Girnar is a holy abode of the 9 nathas or gods who are considered to be eternal and 84 siddhas or religiously uplifted souls.
A five day Bhavnath Mahadev Fair is held during the festival of Mahashivratri which is a worldwide tourist attraction. The Mahapuja of Lord Shiva takes place at midnight in this temple on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of the Magh, as the Hindu calendar.
The Naga Bavas (sages in nudity) march in procession when the Puja ceremony begins. A palanquin carrying a decorated idol of Lord Dattatreya precedes them. Seated on Elephants, they hold flags and blow counch shells. On the way, they perform dance and exhibits sword sports and other interesting activities. They reach the temple at midnight and take a bathing plunge in the Mrugi Kund (tank) at midnight. Unlike Kumbh Mela, only three akhadas take part in the Kund Bath. It is firmly believed that Lord Shiva himself visits the shrine on this occasion. Folk music and dances are performed on the ocassion.
The evening leading up to the midnight ritual of Mahashivratri, at the wrestling grounds, or akhada, next to the temple, the naga bavas gather for a ritual involving a blend of dance and material arts.
The Bhavnath Mahadev temple is a shrine ensconced in myths and legends of the Puranic era. The Shiva linga here is said to have emerged of its own divine intention. Reportedly, when Shiva and Parvati were travelling over the Girnar Hills their divine garment fell over the present Mirgi Kund, making this place an auspicious site for Shiva worshippers. Even today, the naga bavas are known to bathe in the holy Mirgi Kund before joining the Mahashivratri procession. The fair itself is so ancient that its precise origins are unknown.
Special transportation services are arranged to visit Bhavnath Temple from different parts of Saurashtra. At Bhavnath, free meals are served by organizers. Visitors can also find special tea stalls, idols, rosaries or holy beads brought by vendors from Ayodhya and Mathura. These beads are the sacred 'Rudraksh' malas available in different forms. Utensils of brass and copper draw attraction.
Near By Places
The city of Junagadh is only a few kilometers from the fairgrounds at the foot of Mount Girnar. From there, Gir National Park is only 60 km into the forest, and the city of Porbandar is 112 km away on the west coast. Also accessible is Veraval, where the rebuilt temple of Somnath stands proudly. Further along the coast is the former Portuguese colony of Diu.