Maha Shivaratri celebrations of Srikalahasti are celebrated with gaiety and fervour. It is a major draw here. It does not matter if you are Shiv Bhakta or not, on Mahashivratri day of february 23 you must head for Kalahastiswara Temple at Srikalahasti and be witness to the spectacular sight of the sea of humanity descending for jal abhisekham of the lingam.
Srikalahasti is in the Chitoor district of AP just 36 km from Tirupati. Thousands and thousands of devotees congregate here from not only Andhra Pradesh but also from the neighbouring states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Maha Shivaratri this time is also a bit special as this year it is coming on a Monday, the day of the lord. The festivities have already commenced at Srikalahasti with a ten day fair to mark the occasion. The whole town dazzles with huge illuminated cutouts of Lord Siva and the Linga.
The lord Srikalahasteeswara and his divine consort goddess Gnana Prasunambika are taken out in a colourful procession through the streets of the town. After that `Dhwajarohanam’ is performed. Later in the night ‘Lingodbhava abhiskam’ to lord Shiva takes place.
A great way to start the day before offering prayers to the lord is to take a holy dip in Swarnamuki River near the temple along with thousands of devout devotees.
Coming to importance of this ancient temple, supposed to have been built by the Chola dynasty, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the panchabhootha sthalams. Temples of the Panchabhootha sthalams celebrate Lord Shiva as an embodiment of the five basic elements that universe is made up of. Lord Shiva is worshiped at Srikalahasti Temple as Vayu Linga. This observation of the Puranas is supported to this day with a flickering flame present in the Garbhagraha of the temple even though no wind can enter the shrine.
Another interesting piece of information for those interested in knowing the reason behind the naming of this place, as per legend Sri (spider), Kala (cobra) and Hasti (elephant) supposed to have worshipped Lord Shiva here and subsequently attained liberation (Moksha.) Hence then the place came to be known as Sri-kala-hasti.
So be there and make your Shivaratri a sacred affair to remember.