Gauri Ganapati- The festival of Maharashtra

Temple - Gauri Ganapati Article ImageLike Durga Puja is to Bengalis and Raavan Dahan is to North Indians; similarly, Ganapati festival is to Maharashtrians. As September comes, every Maharashtrian starts preparing for the festival. It is celebrated by families, communities, societies, and in public places as well. Although celebrated across Maharashtra, Pune and Mumbai record the grandest celebrations of this festival. The life-like spectacular story models, decorations, Dhol-Tasha, immersion ceremony (Visarjan) everything makes for an enthusiastic environment all through those ten days.

Everyone welcomes Lord Ganesha like he is one of their own; like a respectable family member. For those seven to ten days, every household welcomes this deity by preparing sweets (especially modak), decorating the house, and offering majestic puja every morning and evening.  Some families even organize Aarti competition like who recites the most ancient, unknown aarti, or how many aartis can one recite.

There are some households that welcome Lord Ganesha’s sisters, Jeshtha Gauri and Kanishtha Gauri. Every little thing about the festival is celebrated like a fun activity and creativity. Be it bringing in the deity, installing the deity at home or in public, offering everyday Puja and bidding farewell to him afterward. Some families bid him farewell in just one day, some after five days, some along with his beloved sisters Gauri which is after seven days, while some after ten days. 

Many ancestral homes follow this tradition of Gauri Pujan where the sisters of Lord Ganesha come to celebrate their homecoming. Like Ganapati, Gauri Pujan is also a pompous celebration by itself. 

The two sisters of Ganapati Bappa, Jeshtha Gauri and Kanishtha Gauri are welcomed by imprinting kumkum and haldi footsteps and chanting, “Mahalakshmi Aali, sonyachya paulanni aali.” Along with the Jeshtha Gauri, accompanies her toddler son as well. While some families install toddler son, some families install both son and daughter. Once settled, the Gauri sisters are then decorated by draping new sarees, garlands, jewellery etc. They are then offered a big feast consisting of 18 items; one of which is the sweet beetle-leaves which is considered as a prasaad or naivedya for that day.  Apart from the big feast, The Gauri sisters are offered different snack delicacies like Shev, Chakli, Chivda, Anarse etc. (Snacks that most Indians prepare for Diwali). 

Some suggest a story that, ’Ganapati has two homes- One in Kailas, which is his parents’ place and the other one which is his devotees’ place. The story suggests, once there was a fight between father and son, that led Lord Ganapati to leave. After leaving, he came and resided in his devotee’s home. But, after a few days, both the parents and Lord Ganesha started missing each other. In order to make amends, Lord Shiva, Father of Lord Ganesha and Gauri, requested Gauri to go and bring back their son. So, the Gauris set to bring back Lord Ganesha. While they were at his devotees place, Lord Ganesha, Jeshtha Gauri and Kanishtha Gauri were so overwhelmed that they promised to return every year to accept the devotees’ services. And from then on, every year Lord Ganesha returns to his beloved devotees to accept their services to him.’

Most commonly Ganapati Bappa resides in his devotees’ home for five days. They offer their prayers, conduct their religious duties and after bidding him farewell, visit the different pandals to watch the uniqueness and majesty it depicts. Of all the cities of Maharashtra, the cultural city Pune is most famous for the decoration and life-like shows. Apart from the Ganesha exhibits, Pune is famous for the farewell procession as well, which is known as Visarjan. The main attraction of the Visarjan is the traditional art forms and the Dhol Tasha Pathak which has a record-breaking time of 32 hours. In Mumbai, it goes beyond 36 hours. 

The festival was first publicly initiated by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, to unite all the cultures and castes during his rule. As the kingship receded, the festival found its place in selective homes (Brahmin families). However, during the British Raj, Lokmanya Tilak resumed this tradition with the same purpose as Shivaji Maharaj. As the festival became public, the spirit of devotion and piousness resonated all through the world. Although it might be a festival, both the leaders Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Lokmanya Tilak knew that festivals are the only instances which can unite the masses. Therefore, it was one of the successful strategic moves that these patriotic leaders acted upon to create a better society. 

Today, although we are not repressed by some foreign rulers, there are some lingering societal problems like gender inequality, illiteracy, domestic violence, adultery etc. that need to be addressed. Public Ganapati pandals try to address such problems through their skits, spectacular exhibitions and majestic arrangements. In regard to this objective, the Ganapati festival has become a good way to invoke social awareness. While we enjoy the spirits of this festival, we should also empower each other by being a responsible citizen to make a better society, just like every pandal tries to spread this message.  

-Written by Snigdha Keskar

Advertisements

Raksha Bandhan- Decoding the festival for brothers and sisters

Temple - RSP Rakhi Article ImageRaksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival, that celebrates the caring relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon (Purnima) of the month of Shravan.  This year it falls on the 26th of August 2018. As the name suggests Raksha Bandhan is the bond of protection between brother and sister. It encompasses the warmth shared between the siblings and reminds them of the strong relationship they share. By tying  a raakhi the sister asks her brother for his protection and love. The brother, in turn, accepts the raakhi, confirms his love and affection, and presents the sister with an assurance of protection along with gifts and sweets.

The traditional significance of the elements of Rakhi Purnima 

Every element of this day has a special significance. In our culture, whenever we have any spiritual significance, the first thing we do is to prepare the ‘Aarti Thal’ and honor each other by putting a ‘Tilak’ on the forehead, offering sweet and circling the ‘Arti Thal’ over the individual. 

The Rakhi:

Rakhi is the sacred thread that reminds the wearer of his commitment, his promise and responsibilities. Interestingly, the  ‘Rakhi’ surfaced around the time when India was ruled by kings and queens. When soldiers were on the battlefield, most would not see their families for years. It is said that the sister of a captain on the battlefield, sent this sacred thread to remind him about his responsibilities and his duty towards his family. Motivated by this simple gesture, the captain fought vigorously to win the war and got back to his family. From then on, Rakhi has become a sign of love, affection and reminder of the commitment of protection. 

The Tilak: Putting dried KumKum or wet Kumkum is a prayer offered to God saying, ‘Let the receiver of this Tilak be blessed with colourful happiness and abundant prosperity.’ Putting rice grains after the KumKum asks that the receiver have ample food for his lifetime. 

Offering Sweets: Offering sweets signify that the one eating this sweet shall always have a sweet speech and no ill thought shall touch his mind, body or soul. Likewise, he shall also be kind and generous to others. Every word that comes out of his mouth shall be a goodwill, prayer or a blessing. 

Circling of the Arti Thal:

Every Arti Thal has an oil lamp in it. When an individual is encircled by the Arti Thal, it signifies a prayer for the long life of an individual. The oil lamp, Kumkum, rice and the sweets, therefore, signifies that the receiver’s life be blessed with abundant goodwill, colourful happiness, sweet memories and a long prosperous life. 

As we understand the beautiful significance of the elements of Rakhi Purnima, there are stories from history too associated with this festival.

More than a brother-sister bond

Rani Karnavati, the Queen of Chittor, sent the sacred thread to Emperor Humayun when she realized she could not defend her kingdom after the demise of her husband. Touched by this gesture, Emperor Humayun along with his cavalry left to protect Chittor and The Queen. 

Another story dates back to 300 BC when Alexander of Macedonia set on a mission to conquer India. Outraged by his crusade, the then King of India, King Puru, vowed to execute Alexander. Shaken by his fury, Alexander’s wife sent a Rakhi to King Puru asking him for the gift of her husband’s life. Respecting the bond of sacredness and the pious relation of sisterhood King Puru pardoned Alexander.  

For ages now, we have been practicing this festival by celebrating the love-hate relationship between a brother and a sister. The significance of the rituals, the way this day is celebrated, all of this reminds us of the relation of brother and sister. But, in today’s scenario, Rakhi Purnima has a different perspective. The occasion involves the pledge of a lifetime practice of moral, cultural and spiritual values. The values and the sentiments attached to the rituals of this festival are worth inculcating by the whole human race, the sentiments of harmony and peaceful coexistence. The festival of Raksha Bandhan assumes all forms of Raksha or protection, of righteousness and destroyer of all sin. 

-Snigdha Keskar is a content writer at Investronaut, a firm dedicated to providing organizations with business, products and services consultation.

Take spiritual control of yourself this Shrawan Maas

Shrawan Creative.jpg

As the monsoon sets in with its first shower, we see nature changing its backdrop and we can look forward to a pleasant time of the year. Our surroundings turn verdant, lush and fertile. It is during this time  that  the holy month of Shrawana enlightens us with its spirituality and holiness. 

The fifth month of Hindu calendar, is famously known for different vratas and pujas. Many blogs and articles focus on what to eat, drink or do in this month. However, lets understand why we do all these things in this month only and why this month has such an important place in our devotional calendar.

Climatic Significance:

With the change in weather, and unavailability of beneficial food options, our ancestors set out some spiritual rules for these times. As the then era stipulated a spiritual and religious lifestyle, the dietary habits became a part of religion. Gradually, the way of living changed and these rituals became a significant part of religion. The period comprises four months which is called  Chaturmaas, of which Shrawan is at the start of this period. However, with the changing lifestyles, this period was limited  to Shrawan. As a result, Shrawan is considered as the most significant time of the year and Hindus dedicate themselves to Vratas, fasts and Pujas. 

Spiritual Significance:

Another reason for Shrawana to be observed as the holy month is that all the spiritual festivals occur in this month. The spiritual festivals  Shrawani Somwar, Mangala Gauri, Guru Purnima, etc. all happen to fall in this month. In spiritual terms, the universe, the air, the atmosphere, everything is known as Shiva Tattva. Shiva is the ultimate consciousness. There is no one, who can step out of Shiva. Our ancestors have signified this concept as Lord Shiva who symbolises the unfathomable divine universe. As the atmosphere changes, the Shiva Tattva is activated that adds to the spiritual awakening of every existing being. In order to communicate this message to the masses, our ancestors translated it in spiritual terms which is why this month is dedicated to Lord Shiva and carries utmost importance. 

Mythological Significance:

The month of Shrawana is important in association with mythological stories as well. The most important story in Hindu mythology is Samudra Manthan which had taken place during this month. To describe the event in short, a dispute between the gods and demons for immortality caused the churning of the ocean which then led to the retrieval of fourteen gems from the ocean. Thirteen of them were equally distributed amongst the gods and demons, but, the fourteenth one was  poisonous fluid called, Halahal. The poison was very fatal and it could lead to an apocalypse. Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat; which attributed to Lord Shiva’s throat turning blue. To reduce the impact of this poison, every god and demon offered the holy water of Ganges to him. In memory of  this event, all the devotees also offer the water of Ganges to Lord Shiva. 

Fasts and Rituals:

Of all the days, the Mondays of Shrawana are considered the most important ones. The Shivmuth Puja is said to aid a better married life and is to be done for five consecutive years after marriage. There are particular grains and pulses that need to be consumed during this month. Likewise, every Monday has a specific grain associated with it which is called as Shivmuth Puja. On the first Monday, a fistful of rice is offered as an abhishek (grain by grain falls on to the Shivling) in the morning and an equal amount is to be consumed by the devotee for the whole day. On the second Monday, sesame is consumed; on the third, green gram or moong is consumed; and on the last Monday Jawas or flax seeds are consumed. 

All these pulses and grains have an effective benefit on the human body during the times of monsoons, and therefore this vrata has been designed accordingly. 

Another vrata is the Shrawani Somwar wherein people fast for getting a good life partner and for a good married life. As Shrawan is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is solely committed to his only wife Sati for eternity (Read our Adishakti article for this), our ancestors have symbolised all the fasts and rituals in Shrawana to bringing peace and tranquility in married life. There are many stories associated with this vrata that explain the procedure of the Vrata. A day long puja is to be done, and all rice, lentil, sesame or such food grains and pulses are to be consumed in this Vrata.

Likewise, there are many vratas in this auspicious month, however the Shivamuth Vrata and Shrawani Somwar Vrata are followed significantly. 

Delving into the rituals associated with Shrawan, can be an interesting subject. The more we delve, do we will realise that all these rituals are in fact, for our health benefits. So, even though it may sound little cliched, following Shrawana and the associated rituals will  make us strong and contented in the spiritual sense. 

Art of Living through Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga Creative (1)

Ahead of World Yoga Day, which is on 21st June, lets try to understand the basic idea of Yoga. The more common practise that we know of yoga, has driven the whole world towards it, like some mystical form of the Holy Grail. Yet, Yoga is not limited to exercise alone. This 5,000 year old wellness pursuit is the art of living that ignites positivity in everyone.

Yoga is a beautiful forum to explore, practise and experience the universe through oneself. Ashtanga Yoga, has been misinterpreted as eight ‘limbs’ in yoga. However, Anga in Sanskrit it means sections or levels. Thus, ashtanga actually  translates to  eight levels of yoga. It demands a complete control of the mind, body and soul, once you start evolving through it. It includes mastering the control of your inner self, your body and creates a positive attitude through yourself. Many know Yoga as a self-healing process and  it helps in curing different ailments of the body. It allows you to recognize your true potential and  spiritually awakens your soul. Of course, this is  all true. However, in order to achieve this exalted state, entirely, it should be practised in a systematic manner.

The Eight Stages of Ashtanga Yoga

Ashtanga Yoga Creative2 (1)

YAMA: Yama means moral observance that helps one to attain harmony with the universe. Yama is a result of five liberal principles that when practised regularly, will direct you towards being in harmony with the universe. When one masters these principles, unknowingly, you attain the next level of Ashtanga Yoga.

NIYAMA: Niyama allows you to  attain  harmony with your body through another five principles of moral observance. In a way, it intends to purify the inner elements of the body. When we speak about the body, it does not mean the physical form but, the identity of an individual in the universe.

Yama and Niyama are two fundamental facets of Ashtanga Yoga that work in unison to emancipate oneself. Therefore, when you start practising Yama, in a way, you start practicing Niyama as well. The 10 principles of moral observance to be in harmony with universe and yourself are an initiation towards bringing a positive shift in your life.

Link for 10 Principles of Yama and Niyama:

ASANA: If you Google Ashtanga Yoga,  the images thrown up, show people in  impossible poses, flexing and toning their bodies. Asanas are, in fact, a mirror to learn about yourself. But, Asana is just a stage amongst the other eight stages that comprise  Ashtanga Yoga. When you start practising Asanas, you learn unknown things about the body and about yourself as a whole.

Unfortunately, when one commences  learning yoga, the first thing you learn are the limitations of your body that can deflate  your ego. It forces one to have  feelings of inadequacy and mental intolerance. However, it is at this time when you have to be consistent and self motivated. As you move through these three stages onto the next, you will have taken the  first step towards  better living. When you practise Asanas, you learn a lot about your body. You are more aware of your body and you gradually start focusing on your existence.

PRANA: Prana here means the awareness of pranic energy. It is the art of regulating your breath, learning how to use breath to your benefit. Breathing is something that we do naturally. However, we have never learnt a systematic form of breathing. When you learn how to regulate your breath, your body starts responding in a completely different manner. It washes out the impurities, accepts only what is best for the body and processes it accordingly.

PRATYAHARA: The ultimate control of the five senses of the body means Pratyahara. The fundamental objective of this stage in Ashtanga Yoga, is to stop abusing the body – physically, emotionally or mentally. Getting addicted to food, toxic substances, ill thoughts, self-doubt are some ways how we abuse ourselves.

Pratyahara teaches us to end these addictions and take control of ourselves. Remember, when our elder folk used to preach – ‘your body does not control you’? In a way, sometimes,  too much dependability on our physical being has led us to abuse it dangerously. When one practises Pratyahara, this dependability is reduced and we attain the next stage of Yogic livelihood.

DHARANA: Once you have mastered all these stages, Dharana teaches you to control your mind. The above stages teach you to attain satisfaction one by one, gradually streamlining us towards one single point which is The Mind. It helps us in our focus, keeps our undivided attention on things that matter, and takes control of our restless behaviour, which reflects in our lifestyle as well.

DHYANA: ‘Maun’ which is eternal silence, is something that you learn to master in Dhyana. Just as different poses of the asanas comprise  ‘Asana as a stage’, Maun is that facet which comprises Dhyana. When you consistently practise Dharana, you gradually  reach towards Dhyana. Dhyana or meditation helps us to achieve silence in our mind.

SAMADHI: When you have established Dhyana for a very long time, you reach the stage of Samadhi. As this is the final stage of Ashtanga Yoga, many repudiate from this stage. Mostly, because it is misunderstood as the end of living. However, this is the most pure, unblemished stage of Yog Sadhana. Samadhi leads to control of  life and death. You can choose to live or die when you have mastered all the seven stages in Yog Sadhana.

Many of us attempt to master Ashtanga Yoga and all its stages simultaneously, because of which, we forget the significance of a methodical manner. Ashtanga Yoga is a method that gives a new way of life to those who practice it. So, on this World Yoga Day, lets understand the importance of a Yogic lifestyle whilst also using it as a form of exercise alone.

 

Adhik Mahina- The Thirteenth month of Hindu Calendar

adhik-maas-with-text

Imagine when you get extra time to complete your test paper during exams? Or when working on an important project or when you are time bound and have to crack a deal? Isn’t the 29th day of February extra time during a year? And if that’s not enough, how about a month extra? What would you do if you were given such an extra-ordinary gift of time.

The Adhik Mahina of the Lunar Calendar is nothing but that gifted month for the Hindu people who follow the Lunar Calendar. Just as the Solar Calendar gets an extra day in the month of February every 4 years, the Lunar Calendar has an entire extra month after every 3 years. Ever wonder how does the Lunar Calendar gets an entire month whereas the Solar Calendar just one day?

The Astronomical Significance

Time is calculated as per the orbiting movement of the Earth and The Sun and The Moon. The Solar Calendar is calculated as per the Earth’s movement around the Sun while a Lunar Calendar is calculated as per the Moon’s orbit around the Earth. Thus, a Lunar Calendar comprises 32 months, 16 days and 24 minutes. Lunar Calendar which has 354 days has a difference of 11 days every year as compared to the Solar Calendar which has 365 days. This difference thus becomes Adhik Maas or Mal Maas or Purushottam Maas (different names of Adhik Mahina) in the Hindu Calendar.

The Devotional Significance
As Adhik Mahina occurs after every three years, it does not have special festivities or celebrations under it. The Hindu pandits and sages have ordained it with prayers, blessing and sacrifices. However, small functions like devoting the celebrations to the number 33 that symbolizes extra days that have been gifted are followed religiously. If we calculate the 11 days of every year, they total up to 33 for all three years. Therefore, the number 33 has a huge significance in this month. The most important ritual that most Hindus follow is the Adhik Vaan wherein the sons-in-law are showered with gifts like 33 delicacies, 33 sweets, 33 dresses or Rs. 33,000 worth of gold. Generally Adhik Maas falls around the month of May, that is mostly known for summer weddings and celebrations. Once the daughters have been married, the grooms are showered with different gifts. This additional month of the Hindu Calendar is a way to continue this gifting practice in the form of ritual and hence a special significance is given to Adhik Vaan.

The Mythological Significance
Long ago when the months were created, all 12 months were associated with a deity and accompanying celebrations and rituals. And as Hindu mythology likes personifying everything, the months became the holy maidens of the God of Time – Chandra (As Hindus follow Lunar Calendar). Adhik Maas was named as Mal Maas at that time as she had no celebrations, no rituals and no divinity. Feeling dejected, she went to Lord Vishnu and pleaded that she also be given some divine association if not feasts and celebration. Moved by her plea, Lord Vishnu assured her that she has a special significance in the coming time and that she will be remembered with pious deeds and prayers.

Soon time went by and one of the kings of the then times, King Hiranyakashyapu prayed to Lord Brahma asking for an unusual and mystical boon making him virtually immortal. The boon was on condition that, “No man nor any animal could kill Hiranyakashyapu. He would not die in broad daylight nor in night time. Furthermore, he could not die inside the house nor outside, nor on land, or water or in the sky, and lastly never ever in the 12 months of the year.” Little did King Hiranyakashyapu know, that this dark scheme of his was not supposed to work. Thinking he had become immortal and the most powerful person, Hiranyakashyapu started creating havoc on Earth and Lord Vishnu had to intervene. Respecting Lord Brahma’s boon, Lord Vishnu decided to reincarnate himself as Narsimha in Adhik Mahina, the thirteenth month of Hindu calendar. Narsimha was neither a man nor an animal, he was a deity with head of lion and body of a man. So, he ended the life of King Hiranyakashypu on his lap in the thirteenth month i.e. Mal Maas. With the remorseful attitude King Hiranyakashyapu’s wife conduced a pure environment in her realm with prayers, charities and different religious practices.

Thus, with his reincarnation Lord Vishnu fulfilled his commitment to Mal Maas of being the most divine and ritualistic month of the year. Due to Lord Vishnu’s reincarnation and different religious practices, Mal Maas later came to be known as Purushottam Maas or Adhik Maas.

This year, Adhik Maas falls on 16th May 2018. Enjoying its piousness and arranging different kirtans, bhajans or religious lectures during this auspicious time of the year adds to our spiritual journey. So, cherish this extra time and make the most of it with gratitude and humility.

Lakshmi : Patron of Fortune, Affluence and Prosperity

 

The serene existence of magnificent Maha-Lakshmi temple amidst the commotion of a busy traffic signal across Sarasbagh in Pune might strike as rather odd. Built with pristine white marble in Dravidian architectural style, the temple opened to public for worship in 1984 and has since been held of great religious significance in the city. Devotees can instantly feel a sense of calm and peace dawning upon them as they walk through the elaborately carved entrance. Tranquility takes over as their bare feet touch the cold marble beneath. They are mesmerized as they take each step through the line of pillars and walls carved in intricate patterns leading up to the Idols of Sri Mahsaraswati, Sri Maha-Lakshmi  and Sri Mahakali. Pune’s Maha-Lakshmi temple is a site worth visiting.

2

 

Lakshmi is the goddess of affluence and abundance and her pictures adorn shops, business establishments and homes. She is said to be the goddess of 16 forms of worldly wealths including fame, courage, victory etc. Maha-Lakshmi is an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi. While Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, portrayed as standing on a lotus, Maha-Lakshmi’s iconography portrays her riding a lion like Durga.  She is particularly popular in Maharashtra. She is said to be the root of all creations.

1.JPG

Goddess Lakshmi is often taken to be a “restless” goddess who comes and leaves without warning! Good fortune come and leave without apparent reasons! That is why in order to please Vaibhav Lakshmi (goddess of riches) some people observe a fast on Fridays. It is considered to be an auspicious day to invite Lakshmi home to replenish wealth and fortune.

The person observing the fast has to wake up early in the morning, clean the house, bath and wear clean clothes. Cleaning the house is an essential part of the fasting ritual for Lakshmi is known to abhor untidy homes and lazy people.

3

The ritual of puja is performed which begins with the decoration of the puja alter with flowers. There are three ways of performing the puja. Either an idol of Lakshmi, or a four sided oil lamp or a copper kalash filled with rice is placed on the alter. If a lamp is used, it is lit and decorated with vermilion and rice. In case of a kalash, it is filled with rice and decorated with mango leaves and inverted dry coconut. Incense sticks are lighted and a sweet is offered as a prasad. With folded hands the person has to chant Lakshmi mantras or a single mantra is to be chanted 108 times on a Rudraksha mala or Kamal gatta mala.  The puja culminates with an arti and distribution of prasad. If a rice filled kalash is used, after the puja the rice is mixed with the stock of rice in the house. The person who is fasting has to give up food during the day and eat a simple meal at night.

Popular festivals of Diwali and Kojagiri Purima are the two main Hindu festivals when Lakshmi is celebrated and worshipped in all its grandeur.

Her popularity is evident from the fact that the Indian equivalents of English titles Mr. and Mrs. are the prefixes Sri and Srimati, the sacred names of Lakshmi. It signifies that the married men and women have the blessings of goddess Lakshmi to sustain and perpetuate life. If you are seeking affluence in something, the prefix or suffix Lakshmi or Sri is added to it e.g. Shanti Sri (abundance of peace), Rajya Lakshmi (wealth of empire).

Numerous equivalents of Lakshmi are found in other Asian cultures. Kishijoten in Japan, Vasundhara in Tibet and Nepal and Dewi Sri in Indonesia are some of the close analogues of Indian goddess Lakshmi.

Interestingly and ironically, in religions like Buddhism and Jainism which preach and practice worldly renunciation, Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is greatly revered and worshipped.

 

 

Mahashivratri- The story of Shiv Shakti reunion

MM_Mahashivratri18Shivratri, is one of the most significant festivals for holding a fast for Hindus that falls on the 13th night in Phalgun month. Most temples on this day, have a big festival of Shiva Kathan where the pujari narrates different stories related to MahaShivratri. The legend goes that long ago, both, Shiva’s marriage to Sati and Shiva’s marriage to Parvati (incarnation of Sati) too, occurred on this very day. But, through these marriages there is an interesting story that explains how Lord Shiva was born and why Lord Shiva is associated with Shakti.

Everybody knows the more popular story – that of the marriage of Shiv and Parvati which takes place on Shivratri. Goddess Parvati prayed to Lord Shiva to be his bride. Incidentally, for this sole occurrence, everyone celebrates Shiv Parvati marriage.

However, very few know that an era prior to this day, Shiv and Sati were also wedded on the same day. Therefore, the two most significant events marked in the life history of God Shiva occurred on Shivratri. But that is not all.

For these marriages to take place, we need to understand the story behind the Birth of Lord Shiva and why is Lord Shiva always associated with Shakti/Sati/Parvati.

‘The history of God Shiva dates to the times when The Universe was nowhere in existence. Even before the world was created, The Holy Empress was the only energy in existence. She ruled darkness, space, nature and everything that lives within. ‘The Holy Empress’ or ‘The Mighty Adi Shakti’ as the world knows her is the most pious, pure and the tranquil of everything that exists. Legend has it that she is present in everything and is everywhere. With her immense power and energy, she can create and maintain anything; and if time comes, she can even destroy everything.’ The Mighty Adi Shakti has created the Light, The Sun, the atmosphere, the mankind, the animal kingdom, the waters. To control them all and have an able ruler for the universe she propagated the most powerful energy and dispersed her power into ‘The Holy Trinity- Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.’

As the Holy Trinity was created, she explained to them the inception of their existence- “This world is a work of everything that is pure, true and a sanctum of Holiness. Everyone will know the meaning of life and death through your power, energy and your creation. From now on you will be called as GOD- Generator, The Great Lord Brahma; Observer- Laxmi Pati and the most affectionate Lord Vishnu, Destroyer- The most honest and powerful of all- Lord Shiva” With her teachings, The Holy Trinity started following the path laid down by The Mighty Adi Shakti. Being happy with her creation she then manifested herself into Mother Nature forever.

Seeing the manifestation of Mighty Adi Shakti, the Holy Trinity accustomed themselves with her creation and her set path for them. However, Adi Shakti was not convinced with the responsibilities given to the Holy Trinity. To test her new creation, Adi Shakti transformed herself into a hideous looking deformed being and went to the palace of The Holy Trinity. Seeing such a hideous being, Lord Brahma as well as Lord Vishnu turned their heads away and did not entertain her. However, Lord Shiva calmly looked towards her with great love and care. Seeing such unconditional love, The Mighty Adi Shakti transformed into her true self and blessed Lord Shiva to be the God of the Souls. Being happy with the deed of Lord Shiva, she further exclaimed “Dear Shiva, you have made me very happy and contented. You have truly attested to the reason of my creation. From now on, a part of me will always remain with you forever. I will soon be incarnated as Sati and will be wedded to your soul.” Hearing this, Lord Shiva smiled and prayed to Adi Shakti for her blessings.

Thus, the history of God Shiva and Shiv Parvati marriage is associated with the boon given by ‘The Mighty Adi Shakti’ after creating Lord Shiva.

There are many versions of the birth and marriage of Lord Shiva and the history associated with Lord Shiva’s powers or as to why Shivratri is celebrated. But, this happens to be the most believable story for the association of Shakti and Shiv. To add to this day, the fast for Shivratri is not the usual kind. Lord Shiva, is particularly choosy and very strict about his habits, therefore, even the fast dedicated to Lord Shiva is of a certain taste. The Shivratri fast includes special fruits and vegetables like wood apple(kauth), Belphal Juice etc. Thus, Shivratri is celebrated in
the remembrance of Shiv Shakti union and with an offering to Lord Shiva of his favourite fruits.

 

#Birthoflordshiva #shivratrifast #historyofgodshiva #adishakti #shivparvatimarriage