MAHASHIVARATRI – THE NIGHT OF SHIVA
It was my second visit to Kotappa Konda. I should say the earlier visit had a subdued sort of impression. The latest was Lo-and-behold a mind-boggling adventure; something similar to entering a wild forest with no preparations: it’s thrilling, unthinkable, vulnerable, and risky.
The day of Mahashivaratri Festival or the ‘The night of Shiva’ is celebrated on a moonless night in March. It’s celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva.
From hundreds of surrounding villages, about six to seven lakh people throng to take part in ‘day and night’ fast at Kotappa Konda. It’s all to celebrate ‘Mahashivaratri’ and get a divine glimpse of Lord Shiva in the temple perched on a mountain at 1400 feet.
As night fell as if the floodgates of mankind cracked opened; it shocked me popping at the tsunami of men, women, children, bullock carts, tractors, and motorbikes, cars, flooded into the vast acres of space allotted for a night long merrymaking: racy, suggestive, naughty dancing amidst ear-piercing music sounds and breath-taking psychedelic patterns of loud lighting of ‘prabhalu’.
I never saw people poured in like huge waves – it’s a riotous mass of deluge; lakhs of crowds scrambled together in one place. Everyone seemed in a dancing spree hysterically unrestrained, no inhibitions, no worry, and a deceptive religious fervor as an excuse. (I suppose it’s a night long fast).
One extraordinary saving grace is the one-upmanship of police planning and control to make it an incident-free event.
Taking photographs among the unruly inebriated army of mobs is quite an adventure, and unsafe. Despite, I enjoyed the once in a lifetime encounter and the religious blessing and good-luck.
(Kotappa Konda is situated 40 km from Guntur city, Andhra Pradesh in India).