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Hindus observe Maha Shiva Ratri tomorrow

Saturday, March 9 2013

Hindus all over the world will be observing the auspicious occasion of Maha Shiva Ratri tomorrow during the period of 6 pm to 12 midnight.

Here in TT, there will be six hours of service with bhajans (Hindi songs) and lectures based on the significance of Shiva Ratri. Devotees will be offering milk, honey, bael leaves and other ingredients to the Shiva Lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva) as they payer for peace and prosperity. Known as the “Great Night of Lord Shiva”, Shiva Ratri is observed on the 13th night to the 14th day in the Krishna Paksha every year on the month of Phalguna or Maagh (February or March) according to the Hindu calendar.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva gives special blessing to his devotees, guiding and protecting them from all that is considered evil. Devotees in turn observe a day of fasting (eating no salty foods) in order to perform puja (rituals). It is believed that devotion and sincerity absolves a devotee of past sins. The devotee reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is also liberated from the cycle of birth and death and attains moksha or salvation.

According to Pundit Narad Gosine, the chanting of three simple words can wash away years of sin from an individual. “The Sanskrit words ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is a sincere call to Shiva to bring peace and happiness to those who will sit in meditation and to sincerely pray to him,” Gosine said.

He continued that Shiva Ratri marks the marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati. It also signifies the auspicious night when Lord Shiva performed the dance “Tandava” that led to the creation, conservation of the universe.

Pun Gosine also spoke about the greatness of Lord in the story called “Samudra Manthan” which is the churning of ocean. Thousands of years ago in India there was a time when the asuras (demons) and the gods joined hands to churn out amrut (nectar) from the depths of the ocean, using a mountain as a churn-dash and a snake as a rope. The devas (deities) and the asuras (demons) counterparts were churning for a nectar of immortality.

Among many things that came out, a pot of poison came out of the ocean. This poison was so potent that it has the power to destroy the whole universe. The problem that arose was that the poison could not be discarded, it had to be drunk by one of the devas or asuras. No one wanted to drink the poison because they all felt that they were too valuable or sacred to drink it.

Shiva, upon the request of the gods, came forward in a calm disposition and said that he would drink the Halahal (poison) for “the sake of his family to sustain peace and allow them to find the nectar of immortality.” By drinking the Halahal, he eliminated its destructive capacity.

Shiva kept the poison in his neck itself preventing it from spreading all over the universe supposed to be in his stomach. However the poison was so potent that it changed the colour of his neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanta.

After drinking the poison, Shiva went to the Himalayas to meditate. The nectar of immortality was found, and the asuras tried to steal it from the devas. They wanted to become more powerful than the devas to be able to destroy them. After a “series of divine interventions”, the devas emerged as the winners and received the gift of immortality. By drinking the poison, Shiva sacrificed himself for the safety of humanity.

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