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Spiritiual Life - the festival of Mahashivratri

Vinaya Sharma, Committee member at VHP Hindu Temple in Ilford
Sunday, March 9, 2014
3:00 PM

On February 27, Hindus all over the world celebrated the festival of Mahashivratri or the “great Shiva night”. Shiva means the auspicious one and is one of the Trimurti – the Hindu Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.

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There are various legends associated with Mahashivratri, which may differ across regions, but the essence of the festival remains the same. Like all Hindu festivals Mahashivratri also has a seasonal, cultural, often historical, and deep spiritual significance.

Hinduism has close links with nature and the arrival of all seasons especially spring is welcomed with great joy; and Mahashivratri ushers in spring after cold, long dark nights of the winter (in the northern hemisphere).

Mahashivratri is mentioned in the great Hindu epic the Mahabharata too, when the patriarch of the Kuru dynasty, Bhishma, resting on a bed of arrows discoursed on Dharma.

He tells the legend of King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty observing the festival and explains how Mahashivratri is celebrated.

Hindus still celebrate the festival in the same way. The devotees of Shiva fast and go to the temple and perform puja (worship) of the Shivalinga with water, bel-patra (leaves of an apple tree), milk, ghee, honey, fruit and flowers.

Prayers are offered in the tranquillity of midnight; devotees may sit in silence, meditate, introspect and make resolve to get rid of negative attitudes and awaken the faculties of cognition like a Yogi.

Other devotees sing and chant in praise of Shiva. Devotion to God and acquiring spiritual knowledge are the main aspects of Mahashivaratri.

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