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Mahasivaratri Hindu Festival

Mahasivaratri Hindu Festival

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The Magic of Hindu Festivals

Hinduism is celebratory by nature. Hindus miss no opportunity to set mundane matters aside and join with family, friends, neighbors and strangers alike to feast and have fun, to renew the home and the heart and, most importantly, draw nearer to God.

Festivals are perhaps more impressive and varied in Hinduism than in any other religion. The devout Hindu knows these are times of profound mysticism, when God and the Gods touch our world, revitalize our souls, lighten karmas and bless our families. Yet festivals do even more than this: they are essential to the perpetuation of religion, periodically reigniting the spark of zeal and devotion in the community. They provide the spiritual public square where Hindus engage with one another, affirming shared values and enjoying life's intersections.

Before each celebration, vows are taken, scriptures are studied, pilgrimages are trodden and fasts observed in preparation--all individual acts of intimate devotion that bring the devotee closer to the Gods and keep him on the path to his inmost Self. As each festival begins, solitary adoration becomes a collective ritual, with millions of people taking their places in an ad-hoc choreography. Tradition is followed but the result is never the same; every festival is special and unforgettable in its own way.

Thus the Hindu is reminded of his faith by the sounds, scents and the wild medley of tastes laid out for the feast. His mind and emotions are imbued with Hinduism as sacred mantra prayers are intoned, the spiritual teachings are recounted by saints and the Gods are praised in melodious bhajans.

Each state of India, indeed each village, lends a little of its unique culture to how a festival is celebrated, creating almost endless variations. But recently, with the growing Hindu population outside of India, festivals have acquired an international dimension. They provide a window into Hinduism for the non-Hindu populations in countries as far flung as Norway, Chile and Canada. At the same time, for Hindus immersed in foreign and often very alien cultures, festivals are the most visible and memorable sign of their heritage. Celebrated with unmatched fervor but with paced regularity, festivals serve as a reminder of one's identity and allegiance to Hindu traditions and ideals.

What could be more entertaining, alive, vibrant and yet pious and rich in symbolism than a Hindu festival? Professor Dr. Shiva Bajpai remarked that it is through festivals that most Hindus experience their religion: "Festivals, pilgrimages and temple worship are the faith armor of Hindus."
The Magic of Hindu Festivals

Hinduism is celebratory by nature. Hindus miss no opportunity to set mundane matters aside and join with family, friends, neighbors and strangers alike to feast and have fun, to renew the home and the heart and, most importantly, draw nearer to God.

Festivals are perhaps more impressive and varied in Hinduism than in any other religion. The devout Hindu knows these are times of profound mysticism, when God and the Gods touch our world, revitalize our souls, lighten karmas and bless our families. Yet festivals do even more than this: they are essential to the perpetuation of religion, periodically reigniting the spark of zeal and devotion in the community. They provide the spiritual public square where Hindus engage with one another, affirming shared values and enjoying life's intersections.

Before each celebration, vows are taken, scriptures are studied, pilgrimages are trodden and fasts observed in preparation--all individual acts of intimate devotion that bring the devotee closer to the Gods and keep him on the path to his inmost Self. As each festival begins, solitary adoration becomes a collective ritual, with millions of people taking their places in an ad-hoc choreography. Tradition is followed but the result is never the same; every festival is special and unforgettable in its own way.

Thus the Hindu is reminded of his faith by the sounds, scents and the wild medley of tastes laid out for the feast. His mind and emotions are imbued with Hinduism as sacred mantra prayers are intoned, the spiritual teachings are recounted by saints and the Gods are praised in melodious bhajans.

Each state of India, indeed each village, lends a little of its unique culture to how a festival is celebrated, creating almost endless variations. But recently, with the growing Hindu population outside of India, festivals have acquired an international dimension. They provide a window into Hinduism for the non-Hindu populations in countries as far flung as Norway, Chile and Canada. At the same time, for Hindus immersed in foreign and often very alien cultures, festivals are the most visible and memorable sign of their heritage. Celebrated with unmatched fervor but with paced regularity, festivals serve as a reminder of one's identity and allegiance to Hindu traditions and ideals.

What could be more entertaining, alive, vibrant and yet pious and rich in symbolism than a Hindu festival? Professor Dr. Shiva Bajpai remarked that it is through festivals that most Hindus experience their religion: "Festivals, pilgrimages and temple worship are the faith armor of Hindus."

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Published by: Sanatana Dharma Foundation on Mar 19, 2011
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hinduism today
Who is Siva?
For hundreds of millions of Hindus Sivais the Supreme Being, the absolute OneGod who both transcends creation andpervades it—thus existing as our owninnermost essence. Siva is the power-ful Deity whose energetic dance cre-ates, sustains and dissolves the universein endless cycles. He is the master yogidelving into unfathomable mysteries,the supreme ascetic, the prime mystic,the Light behind all light, the Life with-in all life. Siva is often called Mahadeva,“Great Being of Light,” for He createdother, lesser Gods such as Ganesha andKarttikeya. Although Siva is usually de-picted as male, in reality God and theGods are beyond gender and form, asdepicted by His half-male, half-femaleform, Ardhanarishvara. Parvati, regard-ed as Siva’s consort in village Hinduism,is mystically understood as His manifestenergy, inseparable from Him. The an-cient
Tirumantiram
scripture says of Siva,“Himself creates. Himself preserves. Him-self destroys. Himself conceals. Himself all of this He does and then grants libera-tion—Himself the all-pervading Lord.”
What happens on Mahasivaratri?
Many Hindus perform an all-night vigil,plunging the soul into its own essence,led by Siva, the supreme yogi, who is boththe guide and the goal of the search. Stay-ing awake through the night is a sacri
ceand a break from life’s normal routine, atime out of time to be with God within, toreach for the realization of our true, im-mortal Self. Siva is known as AbhishekaPriya, “He who loves sacred ablutions,”and thus many temples and home shrineshave water always dripping on the Sival-inga. On this special night, Sivalingas arebathed with special substances, some-times several times. Mahasivaratri oc-curs on the night before the new moon inFebruary/March.
What is the Sivalinga?
Linga
means “mark, token or sign.” ASivalinga, representing Siva, is found invirtually all of His temples. The Sivalingais the simplest and most ancient symbol
Siva’s Great Night
Siva’s Great Night
Mahasivaratri
s. rajamhinduism today
 
M
ahasivaratri is the most important festival dedicated to Lord Siva.This holy day is observed by millions of Hindus all over the world.It is one of Hinduism’s most esoteric holy days, when yoga practices,mantras and meditation take the devotee closer to God’s essence within thecore of himself. Hindus typically fast, maintain silence and stay up all night toperform spiritual practices, such as worshiping, chanting and singing. In someregions, devotees visit as many Siva temples as they can on this night.

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