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Shivarathri -- an awakening night
Dear Divine Souls,
February 27th is Maha Shivarathri. There are many legends surrounding Maha Shivarathiri. But one explains why some worship Shiva throughout the night on Shivarathri.
Folklore says that there was once a tribal man who was great devotee of Shiva. One day he went deep into the forest to collect firewood. However, he lost his way and could not return home before nightfall. As darkness fell, he heard the threatening growls of wild animals. Terrified, he climbed into the nearest tree for shelter until daybreak. He was afraid he would doze off and fall out of the tree. To stay awake, he decided to pluck one leaf at a time from the tree and drop it, while chanting the name of Shiva. He continued this throughout the night. At dawn, he realized that he had dropped over a thousand leaves onto a Lingam. During the night he did not see the Lingam at the base of the tree, nor did he know that it was a wood apple or vilva tree. This unwitting all-night worship pleased Lord Shiva so much that Shiva rewarded the man with divine bliss.
On this night, people continue to worship and pray to Shiva throughout the night. Maha Shivarathri may be observed by:
- Fasting during the day, taking only fruits & milk.
- Performing puja for Lord Shiva and chanting various hymns or mantras of Lord Shiva. With gratification, expressing your thanks & devotion at the feet of the Lord by chanting the mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya' as many times as you can.
- For women in particular Maha Shivarathri is an auspicious festival. Ladies may observe by fasting and offering prayers both to Lord Shiva and Paravati (as the Divine Mother) to shower their grace for a peaceful and blissful life and a harmonious marriage if they are wed.
To perform the Maha Shivarathiri puja, the following items may be used:
- Bathing the Shiv Lingam with water, milk, honey, vilva or betel leaves, which represent purification of the soul
- Vermilion paste may be applied to the Shiva Lingam after bathing it. This represents virtue
- Various fruits may be offered, which represent longevity and the fulfillment of desires
- Incense may be burned to yield wealth
- An oil lamp or candle may be lit, which represents the attainment of knowledge
- And betel leaves may be offered, marking contentment of worldly pleasures
Lastly, the Tripundra refers to the three horizontal stripes of holy ash applied to the forehead by worshippers of Lord Shiva. These stripes symbolize spiritual knowledge, purity, and penance. The three stripes also represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva.
Wearing a mala made from the rudraksha seeds when worshiping Lord Shiva is ideal. The beads may also be anointed with sacred sandalwood powder, turmeric, kumkum, or holy ash during the puja ceremony.
With love and blessings, please know that you have all of the tools within your soul to connect with Lord Shiva -- which ultimately is connecting with your own highest Self.
Om Namah Shivaya.
Swamiji and Amma
Starting one week prior to, and culminating on the night of 27th February, Swamiji and Amma will be performing puja to Lord Shiva. They will be offering prayers on behalf of all of us. Please connect with the energies of the puja in silent meditation during this time. You are welcome to make donations of any amount to sponsor the puja.
During the puja, Swamiji is hand stringing Rudraksha malas (and Rudraksha interspersed with Spatika (crystal)). Rudraksha is the sacred and beloved seed of Lord Shiva, and can absorb and retain high vibrations associated with mantra chanting. This 108-bead Rudraksha mala is useful for wearing on the neck, and also to keep count of the number of mantras being chanted. Typically, mantras are chanted 108 times, or multiples thereof.
Om Namah Shivaya !