BHUBANESWAR: Mahashivratri on a Monday. For devotees of Lord Shiva, it could not have come on a more auspicious day.
Though it is a pan Indian festival, the focal centres of Maha Shivratri are the hallowed ancient Shaivaite sites extending from Kashmir to Nepal. This festival is observed for three days in great religious fervour in Mauritius too.
In India, Orissa finds a prominent place with the State capital being an ancient Shaivaite site in the country, finding a mention in the revered ‘Matsya Purana’ as Ekamarak Kshetra. Not only Bhubaneswar, a legend popular in Orissa says, long ago Puri too was a centre of Shiva worship.
The fable goes that Lord Rama himself installed the lingam in the Lokanath Temple.
The interesting fact is the lingam that is kept submerged in a vat of water for the whole year can only be seen on Pankodhar Ekadasi before Shivaratri when the water is removed from the vat.
Though the ceremony of queuing up at the temples, fasting and keeping vigil the whole night is observed on this sacred day, Maha Shivaratri is the only Hindu festival that delivers directly on the concept of salvation and enlightenment.
For, this festival asks an individual to annihilate the evils in one self.
The ‘Yoga Shastra’ says, on this day the planetary positions, especially in the northern hemisphere, are such that there is a natural upsurge of energies in the human system.
And the ‘Anusasna Parva’ of the great epic Mahabharata, very illustratively describes how a humble hunter with ignorance as his only asset goes on to become King Chitrabhanu in his next birth.
The ‘king’ it refers to is a ruler of wisdom who lords over the mundane human traits.
Swami Vivekananda had said about Shivratri rituals that religion exists in pure and sincere love of the heart and not in the ceremony. Unless a human being is pure in body and mind, visits to temple and worshipping Lord Shiva will completely be a futile exercise.
In this contemporary period, the need of the hour is to observe the night in letter and spirit for the ‘shivamastu’ (prosperity) of humankind.