Sunday, March 10, 2013

Maha Shivaratri

Happy Shivaratri! 

Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated to please Lord Shiva. Shivaratri literally means the night of Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 13th/14th day of the Maagha month of the Hindu calendar. In Himachal Pradesh, there is a week long Shivaratri fair that takes place in Mandi every year and is a major tourist attraction.

In India, the temples are flocked with devotees very early in the morning, who come to perform the Shivalinga worship (puja) and pray for favors from the God. Devotees bathe during sunrise, preferably in the Ganges or any other holy water source. This is a rite of purification and is an important part of most Hindu festivals. By cleansing their bodies in holy water, Hindus rid themselves of all the sins and impurities. 

According to the Shiva Purana, the Maha Shivaratri worship must incorporate 6 items:

1. Bathing the Shiv Linga with water, milk and honey. This represents purification of the soul.
2. Vermilion paste is applied to the Shiv Linga. This represents virtue.
3. Offering of fruits. This is conducive for longevity and gratification of desires. 
4. Burning incense. This yields wealth.
5. Lighting a lamp. This is for attaining knowledge.
6. Betel leaves. This marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures. 

In different parts of India, Shivaratri is celebrated differently. We celebrate it to please the Lord.  Lord Shiva is the creator and the destroyer and he is the most powerful God of the Hindu pantheon. It is important for Hindus to make sure that He is pleased.  

Since Shiva is regarded as a mighty destructive power, to numb his negative potentials he is fed with opium and is also termed as 'Bhole Shankar', one who is oblivious of the world. On Maha Shivaratri, devotees prepare an intoxicating drink called 'Thandai' (made from cannabis, almonds, and milk) and sing songs in praise of the Lord and dance to the rhythm of the drums.

Guruji's Bade Mandir, New Delhi
I am a devout believer of Lord Shiva, whom I call Guruji. The picture above is the temple where I used to go to worship him when I was in New Delhi. I miss this place so much. This is where I found peace and happiness in the darkest times. I believe Guruji is with me wherever I go and is looking out for me. Whenever I feel like I'm losing faith, He takes over and fixes everything. He reminds me again and again that He is taking care of me. Whenever I'm distraught, I close my eyes and chant:

Om Namah Shivay
Shivji Sada Sahay
Om Namah Shivay
Guruji Sada Sahay

And just by chanting these lines again and again, I find peace again; my problems get resolved.  Om Namah Shivay means "I bow to Shiva" and it is the most powerful mantra I've ever known. Note that this phrase has no direct translation. This is just what I see it as. 

The meaning of the Namaḥ Śivāya mantra was explained by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami:

"Namaḥ Śivāya is the most holy name of God Śiva, recorded at the very center of the Vedas and elaborated in the Śaiva Agamas. Na is the Lord's concealing grace, Ma is the world, Śi stands for Śiva, Va is His revealing grace, Ya is the soul. The five elements, too, are embodied in this ancient formula for invocation. Na is earth, Ma is water, Śi is fire, Vā is air, and Ya is ether, or Ākāśa. Many are its meanings. Namaḥ Śivaya has such power, the mere intonation of these syllables reaps its own reward in salvaging the soul from bondage of the treacherous instinctive mind and the steel bands of a perfected externalized intellect. Namaḥ Śivāya quells the instinct, cuts through the steel bands and turns this intellect within and on itself, to face itself and see its ignorance. Sages declare that mantra is life, that mantra is action, that mantra is love and that the repetition of mantra, japa, bursts forth wisdom from within."

My translation is easier to follow :p But you get the point.

This is the end of today's post. May the Lord bless you and your loved ones.

I love you, Guruji. I hope you are hearing me. Please forgive my sins and bless me to be a better human being and to always walk on the right path. Thank you for everything you have given me and for always looking after me and my family. 

Om Namah Shivay.


  1. Very good explanation of maha shivratri.

  2. Jai guru ji happy shivraati very nice

  3. Nice blog.Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated to please Lord Shiva. Shivaratri literally means the night of Shiva.Know more about shivaratri click here