SWAMI SHANKARATILAKA

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MAHASHIVARATRI. PART 4.

FOTO3by Swami Shankaratilaka

शिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव

MAHASHIVARATRI

ABOUT THE MOST AUSPICIOUS YOGA NIGHT

The celebration, the ceremony, the holy, the sadhana.

शिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव śivaशिव

SYMBOLIC MEANING OF ACTS PERFORMED

DURING HINDU/VEDIC PUJAS AND PRAYERS

………………………………………………………….

A simple prayer before the deity with hands folded and placed near the heart is the most common form of praying in Hindu religion. But there are also various other acts that Hindus perform while praying like lighting the lamp, offering flowers and leaves, burning camphor or offering food etc. In Hinduism, each act performed has a symbolic meaning.

Sprinkling of Water and Sipping while doing Puja

Sprinkling of water symbolically performs the purification of the surroundings. Sipping of water is purification of oneself.

– Lighting of Lamp –

It symbolizes removal of ignorance and ushering in of knowledge. The wick in the traditional oil lamp symbolizes ego and the oil or ghee used symbolizes our negative tendencies. When we are lit by self knowledge, the negative tendencies (oil) melt away and finally the ego (wick) perishes.

– Burning of Camphor –

Burning of camphor symbolizes the destruction of our egos and arrogance. When ego melts what is left is the pure Self.

– Lighting of Incense and Agarbhatis –

This is used for fragrance which symbolically suggests the presence of the deity and the love of deity.

Performing Arati or waving of lamp around the deity

Waving of lamp and camphor around the deity is symbolically an act of surrender.

– Breaking of Coconut –

Symbolically breaking of coconut is act of destruction of one’s ego. Coconut kernel and the water is also considered to be the purest form of offering that a devotee can make.

– Offering of Betel leaves and Betel nuts –

Betel leaves and nuts symbolize fertility and is usually offered for the birth of children at home. It is also part of all important pujas in South India.

– Bells Rung during Puja –

The bells that are rung during puja are to keep out other noises and it is also a means of celebrations. Bells rung in the beginning is done to ward away evil forces.

– Offering of Food or nevediya –

Symbolically, offering of good indicates a thanksgiving to the deity. It is an act of sharing God’s bounty. It is then distributed as ‘prasad.’ What is offered should be shared with the poor and the needy.

– Offering of Flowers –

Flowers are offered basically because of their fragrance and due to the association of a particular flower with a particular deity. For example Bilva leaf is associated with Lord Shiva and Tulsi with Lord Vishnu. Puranas have stories which explain why a particular flower is associated with a particular deity.

On the symbolic level, the flowers and leaves are picked up with five fingers and is offered with all five fingers. It is usually placed at the feet of the deity. The five fingers symbolically indicate the five senses and thereby surrendering of it before the deity.

Flowers are also offered by bringing it close to one’s heart. This symbolically suggests that one is offering the soul or atma to the deity.

– Walking thrice around the deity or Pradakshina –

In some places mainly in temples people walk around the Sanctum Sanctorum three times in clockwise direction. It is symbolically to cross the nether world, earth and heaven to reach Brahman. (More details in this post)

– Knocking the two ends of forehead before Pujas in South India –

Some devotees knock the two ends of forehead before beginning prayer and puja in South India. It is believed that the nerves connecting to the intellect passes through these two ends and the knocking is to invoke Lord Ganesha, the god of Budhi (intellect).

– Arms crossed across the chest and holding ear tips –

In South India, Hindus while praying knock both the sides of forehead and then put arms crossed across the chest and hold ear tips and then sits and stands before the deity a few times. This is known was Thoppukaranam in South. It is a sort of self-imposed penance and praying for forgiveness.

– The End of Shivaratri Puja

You can complete the Shivratri puja at about 0500 hrs early morning. Perform bath and offer simple prayer and you can break your fast.

– Shivaratri Vrata: How to Observe Fast during Mahasivaratri? –

On the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri, or Mahashivratri, Hindu devotees around the world observe Shivaratri Vrat or Upavasa or fast. The fasting involves refraining from eating any food and not sleeping through out the night. Sivaratri literally means ‘the night of Lord Shiva’ and unlike other festivals associated with Hinduism there is no fun and merrymaking on the day. But the night provides an opportunity to cleanse the ignorance and realize that you are Brahman and open the door to bliss.

The day after Shivaratri is Amavasya – the dark night or the no moon night. It symbolizes the evil forces – desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger – which dominate the Kaliyuga. Shiva is believed to have appeared in the form of ‘Lingodabhavamurti’ or Jyotir Linga on the Shivaratri night. The Linga is an attempt to give form to the formless Brahman. Praying to Shiva is to escape from miseries of Kaliyuga.

The Mahashivaratri fasting begins on the morning of Shivaratri and ends next day morning or the Amavasya morning. Since it is a long Upavasa or Vrata, many people consume a special meal known as ‘phalahara’.

– Mahashivaratri Guide –

. Devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath and wear clean clothes.

. Applying of sacred ash, or vibhuthi, is an important aspect on the day.  People also wear a Rudraksha Mala.

. The idols of Ganesh, Shiva and Parvati are cleaned and a lamp is lit.

. Most people then visit a nearby Shiva temple. In most places, Shivratri is largely observed in temples.

. Some people observing fast consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. Another food eaten on the day is pakori or Kutt Singahri ki puri.

. Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.

. No meal is eaten after sunset.

. Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasi after doing puja and giving alms.

. The entire night is spend in a nearby Shiva temple or by chanting Mantras or listening to stories related to Shiva.

. Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include:

Shiva Panchakshari Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya or chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva.

. People who have a Shivling at home can bathe the Shivling with water intermittently throughout the night.

. Devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath and wear clean clothes.

. Applying of sacred ash, or vibhuthi, is an important aspect on the day. . . . . People also wear a Rudraksha Mala.

. The idols of Ganesh, Shiva and Parvati are cleaned and a lamp is lit.

. Most people then visit a nearby Shiva temple. In most places, Shivratri is largely observed in temples.

. Some people observing fast consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. Another food eaten on the day is pakori or Kutt Singahri ki puri.

. Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.

. No meal is eaten after sunset.

. Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasi after doing puja and giving alms.

. The entire night is spend in a nearby Shiva temple or by chanting Mantras or listening to stories related to Shiva.

. Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include:

Shiva Panchakshara Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya or chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva.

. People who have a Shivalinga at home can bathe the Shivalinga with water intermittently throughout the night.

All the rituals on the night of Shivaratri are meant to cleanse the ignorance and realize the Brahmachari Ajaya Chaitanyam manifest in you. The fasting, rituals and chanting are meant to kill desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger. This will make you a better person and prepare you to face the challenges.

More Info: escuelavedica@yahoo.es

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This entry was posted on February 27, 2014 by .
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