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Shivarathri / Mahashivrathiri festival

Discussion in 'Festivals, Functions & Rituals' started by sonu_627, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. sonu_627

    sonu_627 Silver IL'ite

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    Mahashivaratri Festival

    The festival of Mahashivratri is looked upon with greatest reverence & respect by the devotees of Lord Shiva. This festival is celebrated every year on the 14<SUP>th</SUP> day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalgun. As per the English calendar this is somewhere around Feb or March.

    ……… This day and more so the night is dedicated by the devotees of Lord Shiva for his worship, practice of various austerities & meditation. All the Shiva <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Temples</st1:city></st1:place> are fully decorated and there are hordes of devotees queuing up to get darshan of Lord & offer their obeisance's at the feet of Lord Shiva on this special day.

    The Significance of Mahashivratri :

    ……… There are three stories which are associated with this special day:

    Once Parvatiji asked Lord Shiva as to which Vrata was the best in terms of giving maximum punyas & his bhakti. So Lord Shiva himself revealed about this auspicious day.

    On this day manifested the great & also the first ever effulgent (Jyotirmaya) form (Anala-skanda or a pillar of fire) of Lord Shiva in front of Lord Vishnu & Brahmaji.

    The story goes that once both Vishnuji & Brahmaji, who were both doing great jobs, got infected by a bit of ego. The result was an clash between both these gods. In order to show their respective importance & superiority they decided to fight it out. Lord Shiva decided to intervene so as to make them realise that there is something more to life than the powers of an embodied beings. He manifested in the form of a huge pillar of fire whose top & bottom end could not be seen. Vishnuji & Brahmaji decided to check what this strange thing was. While Vishnuji went down towards patal-loka to see the end of this pillar, Brahmaji sitting on his swan went up. Even after years of travel they could not see the beginning or the end of this manifestation. They came back, mellowed down, realizing once again the limitations of an embodiment. Once they surrendered, then Lord Shiva gave darshan to them and set things in order once again. This blessed manifestation is said to have been on the day of Mahashivratri.

    On this day there was also supposed to have been the marriage of Lord Shiva with Adi Shakti.

    There is also a famous story of a hunter, who one day got delayed in the forest, and therefore decided to remain perched on a tree throughout the night, so as to avoid any predators who prowl on the ground in the night. In order to remain awake, he kept on plucking a leaf and threw them on the ground. As it happened there was a Shiv-linga below that tree, and it was this particular day too. Lord Shiva became very happy even with such inadvertent worship, and blessed the person with all what he wished for. This story not only shows how easily Lord Shiva is propitiated, but also reveals the great importance of worship of Lord on this particular day.

    How to Celebrate?

    ……… The devotees of Lord Shiva should preferably do the following things on this day.

    1. Observe fast on this day, taking only fruits & milk.

    2. Perform elaborate puja of Lord Shiva, and perform Rudrabhisheka. Chant various hymns & bhajan of Lord Shiva.

    3. Chant the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ as many times as you can.

    4.[font=&quot] [/font]Practice Dhyana for longer periods than the usual routine.

    5.[font=&quot] [/font]Remain more introvert on this day contemplating about the truths of life.

    6.[font=&quot] [/font]Do for darshan of Lord Shiva where he is properly & regularly worshipped.

    7.[font=&quot] [/font]Try to get darshan & satsang of some learned Mahatmas. Offer sewa at Ashrams & Temples.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2006
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  2. Ashna

    Ashna Bronze IL'ite

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    Maha Shivaratri


    Maha Shivaratri, the night of the worship of Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. It falls on a moonless February night, when Hindus offer special prayer to the lord of destruction. Shivaratri (Sanskrit 'ratri' = night) is the night when he is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.

    Shivaratri, one of India's biggest festivals, honors, the power of Shiva Linga. Long ago a hunter killed too many animals and birds to carry them all home before dark, so he spent the night terrified and hungry up a tree. It was the night when there was no moon in the month of phalgun (February / March) - a sacred night to Shiva. The hunter's constant trembling caused petals and dew to fall from the tree on to a linga beneath, and the god was pleased. When the hunter home and died on the following day. Shiva decreed that, since the man had worshipped the linga on the night of Shivaratri, he was fit to spend his after life on mount kailash.

    Shiva the “Great God”
    “It is probable that, long before the arrival of the Aryans, the ‘great god’ (‘Mahadeva’ or ‘Maheshvara’) was wor-shipped in India.” Mount Kailas in the Himalayas is the abode of Shiva. “The Ganges came down from the heavens because Shiva bore on the matted locks of his head the forceful impact of her falling torrents.”
    “He creates and destroys, he sustains the world, he at times obscures by his power of illusion (maya), or offers grace to the suffering world. These are the fivefold activities of Siva, symbolised by the five faces of the god (Pancanana). He sees the past, the present and the future by means of his three eyes (Trilocana). To save the earth, he drank the poison and his throat became dark-blue (Nilakantha). A moon’s crescent round or above his central eye (Candrasekhara), clad like an ascetic with a tiger-skin, he holds a trident (Pinaka) in his hand; he rides the bull Nandi. Some of his images represent him as a four-armed person-age, two of the hands holding a battle-axe (khadga) and a deer, the two other hands in poses signifying assurance of safety and liberality; in some other representations, he carries a bow, a thunderbolt, an axe, a skull-capped staff, a drum.”
    Shiva’s family is composed of his wife Uma (Sakti) and their two sons Ganesh and Kartikeya (Subrahmanya). Their respective mounts are the bull, the lion, the mouse and the peacock.

    Shiva Linga
    The stone in its spherical form untouched by the sculptor, is the form nearest to the formless. And the sexual union of male and female is the farthest the human mind can reach to express the creative action of God. This action, as God Himself, remains a mystery to man. All that man can do is to look at nature and see how a new being comes into existence. Since nature is the work of God, it is logical to conclude that both the male and the female principles must be found in God Himself, the sexes being only a manifestation of God’s nature. At the level of symbolism, the Shiva Linga or the stone with the semi-spherical top, makes a positive contribution in man’s effort to express the Divine Mystery.

    Shiva Rituals
    On the day of Shivaratri, a three-tiered platform is built around a fire. The topmost plank represents swargaloka (heaven), the middle one antarikshaloka (space) and the bottom one bhuloka (earth). Eleven urns or kalash, are kept on the swargaloka plank symbolising the eleven manifestations of the Rudra Shiva. These are decorated with bilva (woodapple leaves) and mango leaves atop a coconut representing the head of Shiva. The uncut shank of the coconut symbolizes his tangled hair and the three spots on the fruit Shiva's three eyes.


    The Festivity
    People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water and they keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" continues. Offerings of Bel leaves are made to the Lingam as Bel leaves are considered very sacred and it is said that Goddess Lakshmi resides in them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2006
  3. Ashna

    Ashna Bronze IL'ite

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    Shri Shiv Chalisa -English version of Shiv Chalisa

    Shri Shiv Chalisa
    DOHA
    Jai Ganesh Girija suvan, Mangal mul sujan
    Kahit Ayodhya das tum, dev abhay vardan

    Jai Girijapati din dayala,
    sada karat santan pritpala.
    Bhol chahdrama sohat nike,
    kanan kundal nag phani ke.
    Ang gaur, shir gangabanae,
    mundamal tan chhar lagae.
    Vastra khal bagambar sohe,
    chhavi ko dekh nag muni mohe.
    Maina matu ki havai dulari,
    bam ang sohat chhavi niyari
    Kar men trishul sohat chhavi bhari
    karai sada shatrun shahkari
    Nandi Ganesh sohain tahan kaise,
    sagar madhya kamal hai jaise.
    Kartik shyam aur ganarau,
    ya chhavi ko kahi jat na kau.
    Devani jab hi ai pukara,
    tabahin dukh Prabhu ap nivara.
    Kiya upadrav Tarak bhari,
    devani sab mili turnahin juhari.
    Turant shadanan ap pathayo,
    lay nimesh mahin mari girayo.
    Ap jaladhar asur sanhara,
    suyash tumhara vidit sansara.
    Tripurasur sang yudh machai,
    sabahin kripa kari linh bachai.
    Kiya tapahin Bhagirath bhari,
    purve pratigya tasu purari.
    Davan manan tum sam kou nahin,
    sevak ustuti karat sadai.
    Ved nam mahima tab gai,
    akath anadi bhed nahin pai
    Pragateu dadi-manthan te jvala,
    jare surasur bahe bihala.
    Dindayal tahan kari sahai,
    Nilkanth tab nam kahai.
    Pujan Ramchandra jab kinha,
    jit ke Lanka Vibhishan dinha.
    Sahas kamal men ho rahe dhari,
    kinha pariksha tabahi purari
    Ek kamal prabhu rakhyau gohi,
    kamal nayan pujan chahan soi
    Kathin bhakti dekhi Prabhu Shankar,
    bhaye prasan diye ichhatvar.
    Jai Jai Jai Anant avinasi
    karat kripa sab ke ghat vasi
    Dushat sakal nit mohi satavaen,
    bhramat rahe mohi chain na avaen.
    Trahi trahi main nath pukarun,
    yahi avasari mohi, ani ubaro.
    Lai trishul shatruni ko maro,
    sankat se mohe ani ubaro.
    Mata pita bhrata sab hoi,
    sankat men puchhat nahin koi.
    Svarmi ek hai as tumhari
    ai haranu ab sankat bhari
    Dhan nirdhan ko det sadai,
    jo koi jancha so phal pahin.
    Ustuti kehi vidhi karaun tumhari
    shamahu nath ab chuk hamari
    Shahkar ho sankat ke nashan,
    vighna vinashan mangal karan.
    Yogi yati muni dhyan lagavain,
    sharad Narad shish nivavain.
    Namo, namo jai namo Shivaye,
    sur Brahmadik par na paye.
    Jo yah path kare man lai,
    tapar hot hain Shambhu sahai.
    Rinya jo koi ho adhikari,
    path kare so pavan-hari
    Putra ho na ichchha kari koi,
    nishchai Shiv prasad te hoi
    Pandit triyodashi ko lavain,
    dhyan purvak horn karavain.
    Tryodashi vrita kare hamesh,
    tan nahin take rahe kalesh.
    Dhup dip naived chadhavai,
    Shankar sanmukh path sunavai.
    Janam Janam ke pap nashavai,
    ahtvas Shivpur men pavai.
    Kahe Ayodhya as tumhari,
    jan sakal dukh harahu hamari.

    DOHA
    Nitya Nema kari Pratahi
    Patha karau Chalis
    Tum Meri Man Kamana
    Purna Karahu Jagadish

     
  4. Ashna

    Ashna Bronze IL'ite

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    Shiv ji Ki Aarti - English

    Shiv ji Ki Aarti - English

    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA, PRABHU JAI SHIV OMKARA
    BRAHMA VISHNU SADA SHIV, ARDHANGII DHARA
    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA...


    EKANANA CHATURANAN PANCHANAN RAJE
    HANSANAN, GARURAASAN VRISHVAHAN SAJE
    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA....


    DO BHUJA, CHAAR CHATURBHUJA DASHABHUJA ATI SOHE
    TIINON ROOP NIRAKHATE TRIBHUVAN JAN MOHE

    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA...

    AKSAMALA VANAMALA MUNDAMALA DHARI

    CHANDANA MRIGAMAD SOHAI BHAALE SHASHIDHAARI
    JAI SHIV OMKARA...

    SHVETAMBARA PIITAMBARA BAAGHAMBARA ANGE

    BRAHMADHIK SANAKAADHIK PRETAADHIK SANGE
    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA...

    KARA MADHYE KAMANDALU AU TRISHUL DHARI

    JAGKARTA JAGHARTA JAGAPALAN KARTA
    JAI SHIV OMKARA...

    BRAHMA VISHNU SADASHIVA JANATA AVIVEKA

    PRANAVAKSAR KE MADHAYA TINONH EKA
    OM JAI SHIV OMKARA...

    TRIGUN SWAMI KI AARTI JO KOI NAR GAVE

    KAHATA SHIVANANDA SWAMI MANA VANCHITA PHALA PAVE
    JAI SHIV OMKARA...​
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2006
  5. Ashna

    Ashna Bronze IL'ite

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    Prayers for Maha Shivaratri

    Prayers for Maha Shivaratri
    Shiva Mool Mantra :The Mool Mantra of Lord Shiva is known as the great redeeming mantra also known as five-syllable mantra. Shiva is the supreme reality, the inner Self. It is the name given to consciousness that dwells in all. Shiva is the name of your true identity- your self. In this mantra the chanter (one who repeats the mantra) bow to Shiva- his true self. " OM Namah Shivaya "


    Meaning of Shiva Mool Mantra : It means "I bow to Shiva."


    Shree Shiva-Parvati Stuti :
    Karpoor Gauram Karunnaavataram Sansaar Saaram Bhujgendra Haaram.
    Sadaa Vasantam Hridyaarvrinde Bhavam Bhavaani Sahitam Namaami.

    Meaning of Shree Shiv-Parvati Stuti :
    I Bow to Bhavani as well as to Lord Shiva who is white as camphor, who is compassion incarnate, who is the essence of the world, who wears a garland of a large snake and who always dwells in the lotus like hearts of his devotees.

    SHREE RUDRAASHTAK STROTRAM :



    Namaamee Shameeshaan Nirvaanroopam,
    Vibhun vyaapkam brahm veydaswaroopam.
    Nijam-nirgunam Nirvikalpam Nireeham,
    Chidaakaashamaakaasanvaasham bhajeham II1II

    Niraakaaram ounkaarmoonlam Tureeyam,
    Giraa jyaan goteetameesham Gireesham.
    Karaal mahaakaal kaalam kripaalam,
    Gunaagaar sansaar paaram nato-a-ham II2II

    Tushaaraadri Sankaash Gauram Gambheeram,
    Manobhoot koti prabhaa shree shareeram.
    Sphuranmauli kallolinee chaaru gangaa,
    Lasad bhaal baaleyndu kanthey Bhujangaa. II3II

    Chalatkundlam suubhra neytram vishaalam,
    Prasannaanam Neelakantham dayaalam.
    Mrigaadheesh charmaambaram mundamaalam.
    Priyam shankaram sarvanaatham bhajaami II4II

    Prachandam prakastham pragalbham pareysham.
    Akhandam ajam bhaanu koti prakaasham,
    Trishoolam Nirmoolam Shoolapaanim.
    Bhajeya-ham bhavaaneepati bhaava-gamyam. II5II

    Kalaateet Kalyaan Kalpaantkaaree.
    Sadaa Satchid-aa nand Dataa puraaree,
    Chindanand Sandoh Mohaapahaari,
    Praseed: Praseed: Prabho man-mathaaree II6II

    Na-yaavad umaanaath paadaar vindam.
    Bhajanteeha parey vaa na raanaam,
    Nataa vatsukham shaanti-santaap-naasham.
    Praseed: prabho sarvbhootaadi vaasam II7II

    Na Jaanaami Yogam Japam Naiv Poojaam.
    Nato a-ham saddaa sarvadaa shambhu tubhyam,
    Jaraa Janm Du: Khaough taatapya-maanam.
    Prabho paahi Aapannmaameesh shambho II8II

    Rudraastak Midam Proktam. Vipreyn haratoshyey,
    Yey pathanti paraa bhaktayaa. Teyshaam Shambhu Praseedati.


    Shri Shiva Chalisa

    Shri Shiva Aarti




    </B></FONT></B></FONT>
     
  6. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

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    Posts relating to Shivarathri

    ============ ========= ========= =====
    Significance of Shivarathri

    Sivarathri is observed every month, on the fourteenth night of the
    dark half; for the moon which is the presiding deity of the human
    mind, has only just one night more to be a non-entity, with no
    influence on the agitation of the Mind. In the month of Magha, the
    fourteenth night is named Maha (Great) Sivarathri, for, it is sacred
    for another reason too. It is the day on which Siva takes the Linga
    Form, for the benefit of seekers. Siva is revered as the form, which
    is to be adored for the acquisition of Jnana or Wisdom. Jnana
    Maheswaraad Icched, as the Vedas advise. Pray to Siva for
    enlightenment, through wisdom. So, do not treat this day lightly,
    and reduce the disciplines prescribed by the sages for its
    celebration, such as fast and vigil and uninterrupted recital of the
    name of God, into a routine ritual, or a change for picnic, revelry,
    or playing of cards. Contemplate this day and this night, on the
    Atma Linga, which emanates from Siva, the Jyothi Linga, the symbol
    of the supreme light of wisdom, and be convinced that Siva is in
    every one of you. Let that vision illumine your inner consciousness.
    A fence is necessary to protect growing crops; but, when no crop is
    growing, why spend time and money on a fence? The orange is covered
    by a rind which is not very tasty, in order to protect it from too
    early consumption. Outer ritual is prescribed to shelter the inner
    message from being tampered with. Sivarathri too like all other holy
    days in the Hindu calendar has many such outer ceremonial
    observances and a deep core of inner significance. But, human nature
    prefers the easier path of outer formality to the path of inner
    discipline and direct experience.
    Visiting Siva shrines, arranging for worship through priests of Siva
    Lingams, pouring sanctified waters, potfuls of them over consecrated
    idols, fasting, vigil and such other activities are resorted to on
    this day. But, these are not quite relevant to the real purpose of
    the festival. To fulfill these rites and vows, one need not wait one
    full year and consult the astrologer and his calendar of holy days.
    When man takes in food four times a day, in order that his body may
    keep functioning efficiently, is it too much to ask him to feed the
    mind with good thoughts and godly acts, at least once every day. The
    mind too needs clean and sustaining food.
    Iswara, a Name of Siva, means that He has all the glory that is
    associated with Godhead. Samkara, another name of Siva, means that
    He causes by His Grace, Sam that is, Ananda on the supremost level.
    Siva is the embodiment of Ananda; hence the Thandava dance, which He
    enjoys so much, with the cosmos as His stage. To set apart just one
    day among the 365 for the worship of this universal Omnipresence is
    an insult to His majesty and mystery.
    Consider the significance of the form that Siva has assumed for
    human adoration: In His neck, He has the holocaust-producing poison,
    Halahala that can destroy all life in a trice. On His head, He has
    the sacred Ganga River, whose waters can cure all ills, here and
    hereafter. On His forehead, He has the eye of fire. On His head, He
    has the cool comforting moon. On His wrists, ankles, shoulders and
    neck He wears deadly cobras, which live in life-giving breath of
    air. Siva lives in the burial ground and the burning ghat, the
    Rudrabhumi, as it is called-the land of Siva or Rudra. The place is
    no area of dread; it is an auspicious area, for all have to end
    their lives there, at the close of this life or a few more lives.
    Siva is teaching you that death cannot be shunned or frightened
    away. It has to be gladly and bravely met.
    Siva, again, is said to go about with a begging bowl. He teaches
    that, renunciation, detachment, indifference to good fortune or bad,
    these are the paths to attain Him. Siva is known as Mrtyunjaya, He
    who vanquishes death. And He is also the Kaamaari, the destroyer of
    desire. These two names show that he who destroys desire can conquer
    death, for desire breeds activity, activity breeds consequence,
    consequence breeds bondage, bondage results in birth and birth
    involves death.
    Iswara is also symbolized in the Linga Form, Ling is derived from
    the Sanskrit root, Li, means Leeyathe, 'merges'; it is the form in
    which all forms merge. Siva is the goal who blesses beings with the
    most desirable gift of meaning in the universe. That is the end, the
    death, which one should strive for, the end which Siva can vouch-
    safe. Realize the God in you first; then, if you involve yourself
    with the material world, no harm can come to you, for you will
    recognize the objective world as but the body of God. But, if you
    try to involve yourself with the objective world first, and then try
    to discover God who is material only. Again, you can direct your
    spiritual efforts in either of two ways: endeavour to reach Him.
    Follow the commands of God, and He will be pleased to raise you up.
    Follow the path of inquiry and discover where He resides, and
    realize Him there. You can follow either means. But, reaching Him is
    the inescapable task of man.
    Siva means, graciousness; auspiciousness; Mangalam. He is all
    graciousness, ever auspicious, Sarva Mangalam. That is the reason
    why the epithet, Sri, which indicates these qualities, is not added
    to the name Siva, Sankara, lsvara etc. It is added to the number of
    Avatars, for they have taken on perishable bodies for a specific
    purpose. They have to be distinguished from other humans, by the
    epithet, Siva is eternally gracious, auspicious, mangala and so the
    epithet is superfluous. Siva is adored as the teacher of teachers,
    Dakshinamurti. The form of Siva is itself a great lesson in
    tolerance and forbearance.
    The Halahala poison is hidden by Him in His throat; the beneficent
    moon which all welcome, He has worn on His Head. This is a lesson
    for man to keep away from others all harmful tendencies and to use
    for their benefit all useful tendencies that he can command. If one
    uses his skills for his own advance, and his evil propensities for
    putting down others, he is only taking the road to ruin.
    Man is inherently Divine; he ought therefore demonstrate in thought,
    word and deed the Divine attributes of love, tolerance, compassion
    and humanity. God is Truth; man too must live in Truth. God is Love;
    man too must live in Love, eschewing anger. Master hatred through
    Love; master anger through sweet tolerance. There are many who
    bargain with God, and offer Him gifts of money or articles if He
    would confer Grace. If one believes that God can be mollified by the
    gift of a coconut or few coins, I wonder what kind of God he has in
    his mind? Is his conception of God so mean, so contemptible? Those
    who plan to have their desires granted through riches can never
    deserve the name, devotee. Those who encourage the payment of money
    for spiritual gains or for gaining Divine favor are also to be
    condemned. This is the reason why the Gita lays down that God will
    be pleased by offering leaf, flower or fruit or even a drop of
    water. But even these four articles are materials created by God.
    The Githa does not intend that you should pluck a leaf or flower or
    a fruit from some plant or tree and place it before God. Nor does it
    ask you to bring water from a well or river or the roadside tap. The
    leaf is your own body, which like the leaf, sprouts, fades, and
    finally falls off from the branch. The flower is the heart freed
    from the insect pests of lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride, hate
    etc. The fruit is the mind, the consequence of its yearnings, which
    have to be dedicated to God. The water is the stream of tears that
    flow from the eyes when one is in ecstatic Bliss at the
    contemplation of God's glory. Giving these four is the real act of
    surrender, Saranagathi. The offering of leaves or flowers or fruits
    or river water is at best a way of helping the plant or tree or
    river to secure a little merit.
    There are some who declare glibly, "O, I have surrendered my body,
    mind, intellect, my everything to God". These people have no control
    over their minds and the emotions and passions they are filled with
    They have no mastery over their minds. They are not even able to
    regulate their bodies. So, it is indeed ridiculous for them to claim
    that they have offered them to God. How can they give to God what is
    not theirs? What right have they? How can any one accept the gift of
    something which does not belong to the giver?
    In fact, you need not surrender anything at all. Love all beings-
    that is enough. Love with no expectation of return; love for the
    sake of love; love because your very nature is love; love because
    that is the form of worship you know and like. When others are
    happy, be happy misery to the best of your ability. Practice love
    through Seva or service. By this means, you will realize unity with
    God and get rid of the ego that harms.
     
  7. puni88

    puni88 Moderator Staff Member IL Hall of Fame

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    Celebrating Shivarathri in USA!!

    Hello Friends,
    I came accross this picture in DECCAN HERALD.com.
    And was wondering, if you have wish, you could do/achieve it anywhere in this world.
    I mean, celebrating Indian festivals in any corner of the world.

    For eg: Please see this picture.
    Chitrashree from Minneapolis, USA has made several Shivalinga's out of snow and had decorated with flowers on Shivarathri day.


    Regards.
     

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  8. ssubhasr

    ssubhasr Silver IL'ite

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    Re: Celebrating Shivarathri in USA!!

    GR8!!!!!

    Hats off to her......BowBowBowBow

    I too luv to make snowman but hubby never allows me out due to my health conditions...but certainly I enjoyed this.....thanks puni
     
  9. madhu11

    madhu11 Bronze IL'ite

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    Wow!! wonderful....looks good. Thanks for posting PuniBow
     
  10. Anandchitra

    Anandchitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Re: Celebrating Shivarathri in USA!!



    The Supreme Joy of Shivarathri
    <HR style="WIDTH: 225pt" align=center width=300 SIZE=1>
    On March 6 this year falls one of the most sacred festivals in the Indian calendar, Maha Shivarathri. Why is this day celebrated? And what is the real significance of this occasion?
    Many stories are told in the Shastras, to explain the origin and significance of the Mahaa Shivaraatri Festival. Bharat, the name for this land (<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:smarttags" /><st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">India</st1:place></st1:country-region>) from ancient times, means 'the land of those who have rathi (Love) towards Bha (Light or Bhagavaan). So, for the people of this land, all days are sacred; every moment is precious…
    The Holiness of Shivarathri
    Some ascribe the holiness of the Day to the fact of its being the Birthday of Shiva, as if Shiva has birth and death, like any mortal. The story that it commemorates the salvation attained by a hunter who sat on a bilva tree on the look-out for animals to kill, and without any intention to worship, unknowingly dropped some of its leaves on a Linga that lay beneath, does not make clear why this Day is especially sacred. Another story is that this is the Day on which Shiva danced the Taandava (Cosmic dance) in the ecstasy of His Innate Nature, with all the Gods and Sages sharing and witnessing that Cosmic Consummation.
    When He consumed the Haalahala poison that emerged from the churning of Ocean and that threatened to destroy the Universe, the heat of the fumes was well-nigh unbearable, even for Him. So, <st1:place w:st="on">Ganga</st1:place> flowed uninterruptedly on His matted locks; but, that gave Him only partial relief.
    The Moon was placed on the head. That was of great help. Then, Shiva danced the Taandava with all the Gods and Sages. All this they say, happened on the same day and so, Shivaraatri, was held in commemoration of this occasion.
    The Ultimate Aim of all Sadhana
    We have not only the Mahaa Shivaraatri once a year; we have a Shivaraatri every month, dedicated to the worship of Shiva. And, why is the Raatri (the night), so important? The night is dominated by the Moon.
    The Moon has 16 kalas (fractions of Divine Glory), and each day or rather night, during the dark fortnight, one fraction is reduced, until the entire Moon is annihilated on New Moon night. From then on, each night, a fraction is added, until the Moon is full circle on Full Moon Night. The Chandra (Moon) is the presiding deity of the mind; the mind waxes and wanes, like the Moon. Chandramaa-manaso jaathah - Out of the manas of the Purusha (Supreme Being), the Moon was born.
    It must be remembered that the chief aim of all sadhana (spiritual striving) is to eliminate the mind, to become a-manaska. Then only can Maya (illusion) be cut asunder and the Reality revealed.
    During the dark fortnight of the month, sadhana has to be done to eliminate each day a fraction of the mind, for, every day, a fraction of the Moon too is being taken out of cognizance. On the night of Chathurdasi, the 14th day, the night of Shiva, only a fraction remains.
    If some special effort is made that night, through more intensive and vigilant sadhana, like puja or japam or dhyaana (ritual worship, one-pointed repetition and holy names, and meditation), success is ensured. Shiva alone has to be meditated upon that night without the mind straying towards thoughts of sleep or food.
    This has to be done every month; once a year, on Mahaa-Shivaraatri, a special spurt of spiritual activity is recommended, so that what is shavam (corpse) can become Shivam (God), by the perpetual awareness of its Divine Indweller.
    Linga is the Simplest Symbol of God
    This is a day dedicated to the Shiva that is in each of you. Since thousands pray here and elsewhere in lakhs and crores, the Linga is emanating from Me, so that you may derive the Bliss that pervades the world through Lingodhbhava (Emergence of the Linga).
    The manifestation of the Linga is a part of My Nature. These Pundits (scholars of spirituality) explain it as reminiscent of an epochal event in the past when Shiva challenged Brahma and Vishnu to gauge the height and depth of the Linga Form He assumed. They failed and had to accept defeat. But, the Linga emerges, as a result of prayer and Grace. You have to recognize in this event a glimpse of Divinity, a sign of infinite Grace. Just as <st1:place w:st="on">Om</st1:place> is the sound symbol of God, the Linga is the Form symbol or the visible symbol of God - the most meaningful, simplest and the least endowed with the appendages of attributes.
    Lingam means, that in which this jagat (world of change) attains laya (mergence or dissolution), Leeyathe. All Forms merge in the Formless at last. Shiva is the Principle of the Destruction of all Names and Forms, of all entities and individuals. So, the Linga is the simplest sign of Emergence and Mergence.
    Live in the Constant Presence of Shiva
    Every form conceived in the Shastras and scriptures has a deep significance. Shiva does not ride an animal called in human language, a bull. The bull is the symbol of Stability standing on four legs, Sathya, Dharma, Shanti and Prema (Truth, Righteousness, Peace and Love). Shiva is described as having three eyes, eyes that see the Past, the Present and the Future. The elephant skin which forms His cloak is a symbol of the bestial primitive traits which His Grace destroys.
    In fact, He tears them to pieces, skins them, and they become totally ineffective. His Four Faces symbolize Shantam (Equanimity), Roudram (Terror), Mangalam (Grace) and Uthsaaham (elevating energy). While adoring the Lingam on this Lingodhbhava Day, you must contemplate on these Truths of Shiva that the Linga represents.
    It is not this night alone that you should spend in the thought of Shiva; your whole life must be lived in the constant presence of the Lord. Endeavour - that is the main thing; that is the inescapable consummation for all mortals. Even those who deny God will have to tread the pilgrim road, melting their hearts out in tears of travail. If you make the slightest effort to move along the Path of your own liberation, the Lord will help you a hundred-fold. That is the hope that Mahaa Shivaraatri conveys to you.
    Man is called so, because he has the skill to do manana, which means, inner meditation on the meaning and significance of what one has heard. All the joy you crave for is in you. But, like a man, who has vast riches in the iron chest but has no idea where the key is, you suffer. Hear properly the instructions, dwell upon them in the silence of meditation, and practice what has been made clear therein; then, you can secure the key, open the chest and be rich in Joy…
    Those who deny God are only denying themselves and their glory. All have Love in them, in some form or other, towards someone or other, or their work or goal. That Love is God, a spark of the God in them. They have Aananda (bliss) however small or temporary, and that is another spark of the Divine. They have inner peace, detachment, discrimination, sympathy and the spirit of service. These are Divine in the mirror of their minds.
     

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