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Region 3 - Mahashivaratri Celebrations at Central London Sai Centre

On the night of Tuesday, February 17th 2015, the Sri Sathya Sai Centre of Central London hosted a four hour-long Maha Shivaratri celebration. With over 100 Sai devotees in attendance, Coram Field’s Guide Hall was bursting with Divine and soulful vibrations. The evening commenced with abhishekam offerings on the Lingam in the midst of Rudram chanting, setting a tone of devotion, enchantment and joy.

Swami has spoken at length about the significance of Maha Shivaratri. Shivaratri occurs every month, but Maha Shivaratri occurs once a year. It falls on the 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Maha Shivaratri varies in mythological and cultural aetiology; some mark it as the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati, others as the auspicious night that Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, the dance of primal creation. Alternatively, many believe it was when Lord Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Lingam. Nevertheless, all of the legends glorify Maha Shivaratri as the great night of Shiva. In addition to holding mythological significance, the night is also cosmologically potent.

The moon waxes and wanes during the month, taking 15 days for each process. The 13th day of the new and full moon is called Thrayodashi, which is followed by Chaturdashi. Shivaratri falls between the Thrayodashi and Chaturdashi, on the 14th day of the dark half of the month. Since the moon is the presiding deity of the mind, it embroils the mind in emotions and desires. On this night, however, the moon is all but invisible; only a minute fraction of it appears to man. Therefore, the powerless mind is particularly porous to vigil and the presence of the Divine. If the night is dedicated to intense sadhana and the reading of sacred texts, the mind can be conquered and man can realise his freedom.

During the vibrant bhajan session at Guide Hall, Shiva’s name was sung and glorified in a multitude of languages, melodies, and chants. While the various celebrations encouraged a manifestation of inner ecstasy in oneself, they also foster a sense of community awareness and help individuals recognise the power of collective prayer.

Swami has drawn attention of people to the fact that merely staying awake during this auspicious occasion will not in itself benefit anyone unless they engage in repetition of the name of the Lord. For that reason, all night bhajan is considered very propitious. When devotees dwell in extolling the virtues of Lord Shiva and glorifying His various attributes, the mind is amenable to focus on His name and form.

Devotees sang bhajans with great joy until 11.45 pm. The video of Swami singing Sathyam, Shivam Sundaram was like the ‘icing on the cake’ creating a blissful atmosphere charged with Divine vibrations. This was followed by the devotees singing the Sai Shiva Stotram and Lingaastakam.

The closing Shiva Aarthi boasted a hall packed with devotees in celebration of the joyous conclusion. Maha Shivaratri not only evokes ritualistic significance, but it also possesses a cosmic relevance that opens the mind to knowledge and awareness.