Maha Shivaratri falls on the 13th day of Krishana Paksha of Maagha Maasa (February-March). It is a night of fasting and prayer in honour of Lord Shiva in His aspect of destroying sins and bad things. The night is called Shivamaya, i.e. a night to spend with thoughts of Lord Shiva. As the Lord of the universe He is full of compassion and only punishes out of Love and for the good of mankind. It is on this great night that Lord Shiva redeems the world. He swallows poisons and sins to save His devotees. During this holy night the devotees of Lord Shiva fast, meditate, pray and sing the glory of the Saviour. Whatever is offered to Lord Shiva with devotion is pleasing to Him. On this night He showers blessings abudantly.

   The Symbol of Lord Shiva, is the Shiva Lingam, it is a form to represent the formless and it is worshiped with great splendour during Maha Shivaratri. This Lingam is the symbol of the one who is All - Pure, All -Perfect, All - Bliss; Lord Shiva. When contemplated with adoration it becomes a mirror of the soul. It becomes a cosmic window that opens to allow the devotees to touch the All - Pure One.


   The Shiva Lingam in the Ashram was found many years ago and named Sachchidanandishwara by Sri Swamiji. During Maha Shivaratri the devotees themselves can do water abishekam to this Lingam with water collected from the holy rivers of India. It is followed by Ekadasha Rudrabishekam (pouring different ingredients on the sacred Lingam: milk, honey, ghee, curds, coconut water, sugar, flowers and bay leaves). Beautiful decoration of the Lingam with flowers, vibhuti, sandalpaste, turmeric, kumkum, rudrakshas, butter etc. crown the abishekas. Everything has a deep meaning. During the ceremonies you can hear the huge crowd of devotees chanting the famous Shiva-mantra:



  Om Namah Shivaya...
    Om Namah Shivaya...




  
  A memorable part of Shivaratri is Sri Swamiji's Agni Puja, the worship of the Fire God, which He has inherited from his ancestors and has been performing for many years. Sri Swamiji does Puja to the Firegod standing in the pit (Homa Kunda) unmindful of the leaping flames which surround Him. The flames are powerless before Sri Swamiji; they cannot even touch a hair on His crown. It is a case of spiritual fire conquering material fire, and it benefits the whole world!
After performing Agni puja, His Holiness brings out Shivalingams and other forms of deities from the fire pit, which are the prasadam (gifts) of Lord Agni. These sacred objects provide the basis for Sri Swamiji's predictions and advice to His devotees for the coming year, as well as His long term forecasts.

  Another highlight, at midnight, is Sri Swamiji's distribution of holy ash (vibhuti), which has medicinal value. Some devotees may even receive holy objects at this time to help them with their problems, or for their spiritual upliftment.

  During the celebrations special music concerts are rendered by highly reputed musicians. After midnight Sri Swamiji Himself sings Bhajans in honour of Lord Shiva. In between he plays Meditation and Healing tunes on His synthesizer and gives discourses about the attributes of Lord Shiva, His Omnipresence, His Omnipotence and His Omniscience.

The whole world should become peaceful be the grace of Lord Shiva
Om Namah Shivaya...


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