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Region 4 - Mahashivarathri

Maha-Shivratri was celebrated with great enthusiasm and love on the 28th of February , at Abbey Primary School in Leicester. The program started at 7 o’clock on the Friday evening and continued until 6 on Saturday morning , however the preparation had started many weeks prior to this event.

The altar had a beautiful statue of Lord Shiva sitting on a snowy mountain , blessing all the devotees in the hall. The atmosphere and the sparkling lights transported the devotees to mount Kailash.

The program began with the Sarva Dharma prayers followed by an hour of beautiful bhajans. Just like the sound of Shivji’s damaru echoing through the universe, the bhajans echoed through the hall filling every heart present with peace and bliss! Many of the bhajans described the benevolent Bholenaath with his trishul damaru,chandra and his forgiving nature and many of them focused on Shiva as the Lord of Dance, Natraaj.

We were all transported to the Sai Kulwant Hall in Prashanti as the Lingashtakam, Shivashtakam, Bilvashtakam and Sai Shiva Stotram were sung. This dedicated group of singers had been practising for weeks and their singing flowed like the Ganga from the matted locks of the Nataraja.

Next the audience was enthralled by a dance and a play performed by a group of extremely talented SSE children. The dance performance was carried out by five young girls, four of whom were devotees of Lord Shiva and the fifth was Neelkanth himself.

This group of dancers have been trained by a professional dance teacher and this was apparent in their skilful, elegant and poised movements. This was followed by a wonderful play on Markandey, a great devotee of Lord Shiva. The story goes- once, there were a couple named, Mrikandu and his wife Marudvati, who were devotees of Lord Shiva and had no children. They prayed to Lord Shiva, who was pleased with them and offered them a choice of having one son who would be well educated, religious, respectful and would serve the Lord alongside his parents but would only live to his sixteenth birthday. The second choice the couple had was to have one hundred sons who would be the opposite, but they would live long lives. The couple had chosen to sacrifice their future happiness by choosing the one son who would help them in serving their beloved Bholanath. After sometime Marudvati delivered a baby boy and named him “Markandey” who was extraordinary and God gifted child. When he had completed his 16th year, Yama (Lord of death) came on the earth to take him. At that time Markandey was worshiping Shiva Linga in the temple. When Yama asked him to go with him, he became very afraid and begged Lord Shiva to defend him. Yama threw his rope on the boy and at that instant Lord Shiva appeared from the Shiva Linga. Lord Shiva saved the life of Markandey and on that day, Lord Shiva declared that His devotees will forever be secure from the rope of Yama. From such a short play, we are taught that the power of sincere prayer can even fight off death, so with each breath we take in and out we must utter His name.

After the performance by the children, everybody that was present was given the opportunity to pour milk and water onto Shiv Lingam’s which were placed at the front of the hall. With a dhun of Om Namah Shivay, line by line, brothers and sisters went and poured away their stresses, worries and negativity.

Blessed were the souls who had the amazing opportunity to carry out Shiv Puja on Maha Shivratri night itself. A Sai brother led the puja, through explanations, musical interludes, experiences as well as a powerpoint presentation which showed step by step how to carry out the practical aspects.

This puja and the bhajans that followed continued the divine vibrations well into the early hours. Finally with Suprabhaatam , 21 Omkaar’s and the chirping of the birds and the rising of the sun indicated the dawn of a new day and the end of the Shivratri program.

Overall the Shivratri celebrations were a great success and devotees went home with divine vibrations, inspiration and love in their hearts!