World famous International Shivratri Mahotsav of Mandi began today with Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur formally announcing the opening of the Mela at historic Paddal ground of Mandi town. Earlier, the Chief Minister after paying obeisance at the temple of famous and principal deity Raj Madhav Rai, participated in the traditional Jaleb, Shobha Yatra which started from Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple and culminated at the Paddal ground. Thousands of people dressed in their traditional dress participated in the procession carrying their local deities dancing all the way up to the Paddal ground. Over 216 deities participated in the Jaleb, the traditional Shoba Yatra from almost all parts of the district. The Chief Minister also participated in the Pagri ceremony and performed Puja at Shri Raj Madhav Rai temple. While addressing the people at historic Paddal Ground, the Chief Minister said that offerings to our God and Goddesses in the era of Covid-19 have also been adversely affected. Keeping this in view, the State Government has decided to double the honorarium of Bajantris by announcing 100% increase in it. He said that last year Rs. 9.52 lakh were spent on the honorarium of Bajantris, whereas Rs. 19 lakh would be spent during this year. Announced 50 percent increase in the expenditure for the ration of the deities. He said that last year Rs. 16.38 lakh were spent on it whereas this year about Rs. 25 lakh would be spent. Chief Minister said that the present State Government completed four years in office about two month ago. The Prime Minister graced this historic occasion by participating in the four years function held at this historic ground and inaugurated and laid foundation stones of developmental projects worth Rs. 11,500 crore. He said that schemes such as Sahara Yojna, Grihini Suvidha Yojna, Mukhyamantri HIMCARE, Mukhyamantri Swabalamban Yojna, Shagun Yojna, Social Security Pension, etc. have proved boon to lakhs of people of the State.