1 March 2011

2011 Mahashivaratri Pujas

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Mahashivaratri falls on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna, and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Mahashivaratri this year will be celebrated at Arunachala Shiva Sthalams on the night of Wednesday, March 2 through Thursday, March 3, 2011. On this night Shiva Temples in Tiruvannamalai will follow the lead of the famous Arunachaleswarar Temple and stay open all night.

While almost all other festivals are celebrated during the day, Mahashivaratri is celebrated at night, which stands for all that is evil: injustice, ignorance, darkness, sin, violence, treachery, falsehood, and misfortune. Mythology says that Shiva appeared to save the world from Tamoguna (darkness and ignorance).

Shiva symbolizes the atman (self), and worship of Shiva denotes meditation and contemplation by an individual on his or her own self. Thus the only way to achieve peace and happiness is by worshipping Shiva at night, that is, by meditating on one's own self during the night when the individual is free from the distractions of the physical world. In the case of Arunachala, premier Shiva site of South India, circumbulation of Arunachala Hill will be observed by many.

The name Shiva signifies a quality that means 'Auspicious' or 'The Auspicious One'. To a few, Shiva is Paramatma, Brahman, the Absolute, but many more prefer to see Shiva as a personal God given to compassion for his worshippers, and the dispenser of both spiritual and material blessings. Related to the Absolute concept is Shiva as Yoganath, the Lord of Yoga, wherein he becomes teacher, path and goal. As such he is the Adi Guru or Highest Guru of sannyasins who have renounced the world to attain the Absolute.

Arunachaleswarar Temple
Siva Sannidhi Puja Programme

March 2nd – 5 a.m. until 6 p.m. the performance throughout the day of One Lakh Archana at the Siva Sannidhi Shrine

8.30 p.m. First Kala Puja
11 p.m. Second Kala Puja

March 3rd
12 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. Lingodbhava Puja

2.00 a.m. Third Kala Puja
4.00 a.m. Fourth Kala Puja (completes before sunrise)

It is only on the day of Mahashivaratri (third Kala Puja) that the Screwpine flower is used for the worship of Shiva. As a result of a dispute between Brahma and Vishnu the Lord declared that henceforth the flower which hitherto had adorned his head in worship would no longer be used in his adoration.

To read the story of the Screwpine and about the dispute between Brahma and Siva, go to this link here.

The pujas above are followed by pujas to Chandikeswara and Bhairavi.

To view photographs of previous Mahashivaratri Festivals celebrated at Arunachaleswarar Temple, click here for 2009 archives and here for 2010 archives

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