Today is Mahashivaratri a festival of Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction. Mythology says that anybody who fasts the whole day today and in the evening after sunset offers water on the Shiva linga is granted peace and unmarried girls a husband of their choice.
I come from a family of priests and teachers, which is truly very religious…… On this day My maternal grandfather would himself make shiv lingas with mud – one for every child and grandchild in the family and then they were worshipped fervently. At the end of the puja the idols were immersed in the Ganga.
Even today the same ritual is followed in our individual homes wherein after fasting the whole day we break our fast after offering pushpanjali and pouring a mixture of milk, curd, ghee, honey, and water on the shiva linga. This takes place in the night. So after staying hungry the whole day we do this at the night!!!! Usually midnight.
The legend has it that a very tired tribal, on the moonless night of amavasya was late, and could not return home in the night. As it was very late in the night he remained in the forest. He had not eaten anything the whole day. It was late in the night so he climbed a tree in fear of being attacked by the animals. There was a shivalinga at the base of the tree, which he had climbed. When the hungry and weary tribal rested on the tree a bel leaf touched him and fell on the shiva linga. This pleased Shiva a lot. The tribal got all that his heart wanted and since that day Shivaratri is celebrated.
In my home we have been worshipping the Shiva linga since we were very little. Every shivlinga is bathed and decorated with sandalwood and worshipped with bel leaves and white flowers – a favorite of Shiva. This is done in my household on a daily basis. It was imbibed by Ma to us since we were very little and we have done it ever since.
I recall an incident when I was little and Ma had asked me to do the daily worship of the Gods. It was a very tedious procedure and my sisters were very glad to offload the work to me. My job was to individually bathe the stone idols of Shiva (two of them) and metal Bal Gopal (three of them) and then make them wear fresh clothes and then decorate them with fresh sandalwood paste and flowers and tulsi and bel leaves.
The first couple of days I did it diligently after which the whole thing was getting rather cumbersome to me……. so I decided to take a shortcut. I took all of the five idols to the sink and washed them together under the tap. I got away doing this the first two consecutive days and the rest was not so bad……. On the third day Ma caught me in action and I was busted!!!! I tried convincing Ma that the Gods were fed up of taking a bath in a tub…… so I was giving them a shower!!! Well, what can I say!!! I was grounded!!!!
Hindu mythology is a sore topic with Hubs. He totally does not understand it. Hubs, though brought up in a similar environment as mine is totally ignorant about Hindu mythology so I really have to answer a hell lot of questions as to who is Shiva and why is Shivaratri celebrated which I normally answer rather patiently!!!
Hindu religion is quite difficult to understand for people who are non-Hindus specially when you say that there are 36 crore deities. Legends and epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata do try to enlighten us to some of them……. but quite a few of them are the unsung heroes….. This is rather difficult to be explained but I do try!!!
Yesterday there was this conversation whose gist was rather amusing and I wanted to share it with you: In my attempts to make hubs understand the Gods in Hindu mythology….. I tried using the hierarchy theme. I was trying to explain to hubs in a language which he would understand. I tried introducing a new method of inducting him into Hindu mythology……. Since he understands the corporate structure, in true teacher ishtyle I tried using that to make him understand.
So here goes the conversation:
Rn: Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh are the Joint Directors – wherein Vishnu holds the position of the CEO and Bramha of the Chairman and Shiva is the sleeping partner but also holds all the powers of running the company……. Though there are controversies by different sects in the Hindu religion as to who is more powerful!!!
Rj: Then what about the others???
Rn : The others are essentially Vice Presidents and HOD’s and managers in different departments.
Rj: Then who reports to whom.
Rn: They have a flat structure and they all report to the Joint Directors.
Rj: Then why do people pray to the managers and vice president why not to the individual Directors directly.
Rn: Vishnu is very difficult to please. It is very difficult to get into his good books. Bramha is more into the internal affairs of the God’s themselves. Shiva is the easiest to please but he has a bad temper and if you get in his bad books you are gone……. so it is easier to go by way of the smaller god’s in the hierarchy……. since they have the requisite powers……. and If they cannot fulfill what you ask of them; they will refer you to the department dealing with such kinds of affairs!!! So there are different Gods who are allotted different departments depending upon their core competencies!!!
Rj: What about the Goddesses???
Rn: Wives of the Directors. They have powers by themselves……….. First ladies!!!!