As Hindus in Guyana and around the world, observe “Maha Shiva Ratri” today, Social Cohesion and Culture Youth and Sport Minister, Dr George Norton has extended greetings and best wishes to the community.He said this festival contributes to a peaceful and conducive environment in which all can dwell in harmony irrespective of system and beliefs.“It is my hope that every Guyanese, particularly my Hindu brothers and sisters will utilise this blessed occasion for spiritual growth and intellectual upliftment. In observance of Maha Shiv Ratri, Guyanese from all walks of life can be guided by the noble teachings of Lord Shiva – the God that promotes peace of mind,” Dr Norton stated. The Minister went on to say that the teachings of Lord Shiva revolve around empathy, humility and compassion.“He teaches us that anger should be channelled towards constructive acts that benefit mankind because in the end we all will eventually leave this material world behind. The practice of brotherhood and forgiveness, as taught by Lord Shiva, are the kind of qualities that all Guyanese should embrace as we forge ahead to build a more cohesive society where diversities are respected and embraced with pride,” the Culture Minister asserted.Meanwhile, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) also joined thousands of Hindus across the country to celebrate “Maha Shiva Ratri” – the “Great Night of Shiva”; the annual auspicious occasion on the Hindu calendar is marked by fasting, prayers and paying homage to Lord Shiva, a central figure of the Hindu Trinity.ERC Commissioner Rajkumarie Singh, who is the representative of Hindus on the Commission, extends greetings to all Guyanese, especially the Hindu community on behalf of the ERC.“The Commissioners and staff of the ERC send warmest greetings to all our Hindu brothers and sisters on this occasion. As you surrender to the Divine Force of Lord Shiva and you seek to recognise Him inside of you, may each of us move away from conflict and move towards truth, beauty, peace and benevolence. A most peaceful and blessed ‘Maha Shiva Ratri’ to all,” Commissioner Singh said.In English, “Maha Shivaratri” translates to “The Night of Shiva”. Lord Shiva is regarded as one of the main deities in Hinduism.Hindus in and out of Guyana will observe Maha Shiva Ratri on Monday March 3, 2019. This is an annual feature which falls on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the month of Phagun, (Feb-March). It is a festival which demands complete abstinence since it results in purity of mind and strengthening of intellect.On this occasion Lord Shiva is worshipped as Nirgun Brahma. The formless and attribute-less Supreme Brahmana. The Lingam is the centre of all worship. The Lingam symbolises that which is auspicious and infinite. It is a mark of the generative power of the Lord. The Lingam also represents trinity which includes Creative, Sustaining and Regenerative forces of the universe.Devotees from all walks of life participate in the observance. This occasion subscribes to the transcendence of all barriers. It allows all aspirants to recognise that the infinite power of the supreme is manifested in all beings sentient and insentient.Maha Shiva Ratri, in essence, is a time for reflection and self-analysis. It is a time to embrace the inevitable reality of life. That reality is called Truth.Maha Shiva Ratri Customs & CelebrationsIn honour of Lord Shiva, many devotees on this day fast. While some of those who fast will do so on a diet of milk and fruit, there are others who won’t even drink a drop of water on this day.Many devotees also believe that worshipping Shiva on this day with a sincere heart will not only absolve them of their sins and liberate them from being reincarnated, but it will also bring them luck and happiness.Many devotees will also take a ritual bath in the Ganga River early in the morning on this day. They then put on brand-new clothes and visit the Shiva temple to ritually bathe the Lingam with water, milk and/or honey.Additionally, Hindu devotees hold overnight vigils, worship the Shivalingam, and make offerings of fruits, flowers and milk to the Hindu deity.There are several stories explaining the event; some say that it was on this day that Lord Shiva drank the poison that came out of the churning ocean in the epic ‘Samudra Manthan’ involving the Devas and Asuras, while some say that Maha Shiva Ratri marks the marital union of Lord Shiva and Parvati.Some ancient scriptures also say that Lord Shiva performed his ferocious dance or tandav on this particular day and his devotees remember him as the God who destroys evil and listens to his true devotees with an open heart.
Shiva Ratri greetings