Mathura/Agra: Thousands of kanwarias, devotees of Lord Shiva, are closing in to offer Ganga water from Haridwar on the Hindu god`s icons in temples in Mathura, Vrindavan, Goverdhan and Agra during special prayers Monday.
Monday is reserved for Lord Shiva, a member of the Hindu trinity which includes Lords Vishnu and Brahma, and is considered very auspicious during the monsoon season.
In Agra, the annual 50-km-long `parikrama` (circumambulation) around the city, touching the four ancient shrines of Kailash, Balkeshwar, Rajeshwar and Prithvi Nath begins Sunday evening.
"Each year, thousands of youngsters perform the night-long parikrama, bare-footed. The district authorities have restricted traffic movement and a constant vigil is being maintained," a priest of Balkeshwar said.
Acharya Gopi Ballabh, another priest, said: "Most Shiva devotees fast and offer alms to people. This time of the year, there is also a big demand for bhang (preparation of cannabis plant) and thandai (milk-based beverage)."
Police said heavy vehicles will avoid the city till Monday.
"In view of violence last year by the devotees, carrying of lathis (sticks) has been banned, and police pickets posted at all road crossings to monitor their movement," a senior police officer said.