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CM Virbhadra Singh opens International Shivratri fair
The famous International Shivratri fair of Mandi district began on Saturday as Himachal Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh formally announced the opening of the Mela at historical Paddal ground.

After paying obeisance at the famous Madho Rai temple, the Chief Minister participated in the traditional 'Jaleb' (Shobha Yatra) of International Shivratri fair. He was accompanied by Health Minister, Thakur Kaul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, Prakash Chaudhary, Rural development Minister, Anil Sharma and Ayurveda and co-operative Minister, Karan Singh and others. The Chief Minister wished prosperity to the people of the state on the occasion and particularly of Mandi district.

Thousands of people of the area dressed in their colourful attire thronged the procession carrying along the palanquins of the local deities and marched towards the Paddal Mela ground. A little less than two hundred devtas participated in the 'Jaleb', the traditional Shobha Yatra, from almost all corners of the district.

The Chief Minister while addressing the gathering at Paddal stadium announced 10 per cent increase in nazarana of the local deities.

He said that it was for the first time that the bajantaris (musicians) would also be given nazarana separately, which was never given before.

He also announced setting up of medical university in Mandi district, the first of the state.

He said that the life of the people of the state revolves around the local god and goddesses and the local deities were inseparable part of the people and participate in almost all the activities. We should perform all the religious ceremonies as per the traditional practice.

He said that it was evident from the history that the civilizations who failed to preserve their culture and customs, had completely vanished. Our identity was our unique culture and traditions and needs to be preserved. He said that all the fairs of the state revolve around the local deities who were inseparable part of our lives.

As far as our ancient temples are concerned, they would be conserved and renovated, keeping intact the ancient old hill architecture, he said, adding that the government was serious to protect those temples which were on the verge of collapse. He also talked about his close association with the people of Mandi.

He said that the medical college at Ner Chowk would start functioning in this fiscal adding that a medical university would be opened in Mandi district to give push to health sector.

He said that the development of any nation depends upon an educated society and to take a step forward in this direction the government had stressed on providing higher and quality education to the youth of the state. He said that as of today there were 119 colleges in the state and during last four years his government had opened as many as 45 colleges and that too in remote and far flung areas. He also counted the eight degree colleges opened in Mandi district.

The Chief Minister also released the Shivratri souvenir on the occasion.

Deputy Commissioner, Sandeep Kadam, who is also the Chairman of Shivratri Mela committee, welcomed and honoured the Chief Minister on the occasion. He also briefed about the week-long fair and the activities to be undertaken. The Deputy Commissioner said that efforts were to showcase the art, culture and traditional customs of the district.

Later, the Chief Minister also inaugurated the exhibition at 'Seri Manch' set up by various government departments and NGO's and evinced keen interest in Saras Mela.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Sohan Lal, State Youth Congress President, Vikramaditya Singh, Chairman, SC/ST Welfare Corporation, Tek Chand Dogra, Chairman, MILKFED, Chet Ram Thakur, vice –Chairman, State Handloom and Handicraft, Chandershekhar Thakur, Chairperson, Zilla Parishad, Champa Thakur, Chairperson, Nagar Parishad, Mandi, Neelam Sharma, Divisional Commissioner, Devesh Kumar, SP, Prem Thakur and other dignitaries were present on the occasion among others.

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