time to fast with faith
hallowed trinity of the Hindu pantheon, Lord Siva evokes equal devotion but more
fear than Vishnu and Brahma. This is because, when provoked Siva opens his third
eye (the Sun, the Moon and Agni are the three eyes) thereby causing widespread
devastation. Hence the concern of the devotees to convert the God's fierce
temperament into graceful benediction.
which falls on Magha Krishna Chaturti (March 1, this year), is the grand night
of Siva's marriage to Parvati. The festival is popular throughout India,
especially among Saivites who celebrate it with faith and fervour. People fast
the whole day and spend the night keeping awake (gambling which goes on in some
places is a misconceived aberration) singing bhajans, playing drums and dancing,
thus creating a holy ambience all around. Unmarried girls fast the whole day
propitiating Lord Siva (Ardhanareeswarar) for granting them an ideal husband.
number five has special significance for Lord Siva; while Panchakshari ("Om
Namasivayah") is his core mantra, the five Siva lingams corresponding to
Panchabhutas (five divine elements) are considered most sacred. They are Kanchi
Ekambareswara temple Prithvi (Earth), Thiruvanaikoil (near Tiruchirapalli) —
Apa (water), Thiruvannamalai (North Arcot District) — Tejas (Fire),
Chidambaram (South Arcot), — Akas (Ether) and Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh) —
Vayu (Air). Siva is always worshipped with Panchamruta — a mix of milk,
butter, curd, honey and sugar.
sitting and dancing Siva (Nataraja) is the deity in some places, worship of the
Lingam is common throughout the country.
Kasi Viswanath, Sri Saila Mallikarjuna, Draksharama Bhimeswara and Rameswaram
are the most popular pilgrim centres.
Chennai, the Kapaleeswarar temple is a landmark, while the ancient Dandiswarar (Velachery)
and Marundiswarar (Tiruvanmiyur) temples also draw huge crowds, especially
scholar, Gustav Oppert argued that while Saligram represents the feminine
aspect, the Sivalingam is symbiotic of masculine energy.
Vivekananda rebutted this explanation and traced the reference to the Atharva
Veda: "The worship of the Siva Lingam originated from the famous hymn in
the "Atharva Veda Samhita", sung in praise of the Yupastambha, the
sacrificial post which gave place in time to the Siva Lingam and was deified to
the high Devahood of Sri Sankara".
stambha represents the Vedic concept of the brightness of Siva's body, his
matted hair and blue throat and His riding on the Nandi, the bull.
with celebrations, worship and fasting, is bhang, the favourite drink of
Lord Siva, which is a `must' for many Saivites.
to a legend, Lord Siva although married to Parvati, is an ascetic living in the
forest. It is interesting to know that at one time Kashmir Muslims took part in
the Sivaratri celebrations of pandits.
festival would begin three weeks in advance and culminate on Sivaratri day.
Unfortunately, this major manifestation of communal harmony no more exists.
only hope for the revival of this healthy practice not only in Kashmir but
throughout the country, highlighting that all festivals are meant to promote
brotherhood and harmony and not hatred between religions.