Maha Siva Ratri
Maha Siva Ratri' means the great night of Siva. It is celebrated in the
month of March. On this day, people fast. Some abstain from any kind of
food, while others content themselves with one meal. Strict vigil is kept
in the night. The people cluster round the Siva temple, and after bath
they smear their bodies with holy ashes, and keep on reciting prayers
to Siva. Enthusiasts, more devout than the rest perform rolling circumambulations
round the temple, while the ordinary worshippers go round it on foot a
number of times. Puja to the image of Siva is kept up all the night. Early
next morning, people bathe once more, worship Siva and return to their
The celebration of this festival at Siva temple
at Alwaye on the banks of the Periyar river is attended with great éclat.
The Lingam of Siva rises out of the sand on the sand at the bank of the
river. There is only a temporary shed to serve as a temple, as the whole
place will be flooded during the rainy season. All classes, castes and
creeds come for this festival. A fair is heed on a very large scale. There
are shows, dances, dramas, for the pilgrims, to keep them awake. There
are a number of small sheds spread about the sand banks where the devout
Siva worshipper sets up his own Siva lingam for worship.
On Sivaratri, all the devotees throng in great numbers
to the temples of Siva or Mahadeva. They remain there the whole night,
sing all sorts of incident songs in honour of the Lingam. Lingam represents
the creative power of luminary.
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