Maha Shivrathri :
Night of Shiva
Unlike other religious festivals being celebrated with pomp,
splendour and gaiety, Shivrathri is celebrated with more of spiritual
serenity. It is an inward journey of the soul, the destination being the
meeting with God. Incorporeal God from the incorporeal world is meeting
his children of this corporeal world. This interaction with the Divine
Being is something unique. As God takes a human medium to carry out his
task, we need a divine insight and a divine intellect to perceive those
pure and divine vibrations of the Supreme presence.
God takes a human medium to carry out his task
When celebrating Shivrathri, observing a fast is of great importance.
Generally people believe that a fast means to abstain from or restrict
your food, in order to have control over the mind from being pulled by
the senses and to have remembrance of God. Some regard a fast as just
abstinence from good and entertainment. But purity is the principal
factor. It’s not just celibacy but being ‘Brahma-Achari’ that is
following the code of conduct laid down by Brahma. People follow the
fast of the main big vices, but they allow freedom to the little vices
which become strong and cause harm. Some think that little vices such as
anger have to happen and can’t be helped. Then the purpose of a fast is
lost. The pledge of purity has to be maintained.
That God incarnates at night also has its significance. Most parts of
the world pride the fact that they have achieved political freedom but
the entire human family remains trapped by the slavery of the worst kind
- the slavery of our own age-old weakness in the forms of lust, anger,
ego, greed and attachment along with their subsidiaries.
It’s hard to find anyone absolutely free from these nagatives. But
man is ignorant of the extent to which the human psyche has decayed. As
is mentioned in the Bagawad Gita, God incarnates when unrighteousness in
the world reaches the highest peak.
In today’s world virtues are lost and vices are rampant. Positive
values like peace, love, honesty, tolerance etc. have disappeared and
instead negative qualities like peacelessness, hate, dishonesty,
intolerance etc. have become the order of the day. The soul, in its
ignorance believes that this is his cherished world and his life the
most enjoyable. This is the darkest period of the human race. Night is
ignorance. Human souls are merged in the slumber of ignorance. God, the
father has come to awaken the souls and end the night of darkness.
Hence on this auspicious day of Shivrathri, devotees renounce sleep
and keep awake the whole night with the hope of attaining salvation or
freedom from the clutches of Maya or the vices. They look up to God in
prayer and remain alert to receive God’s message. The weaknesses and
vices have thrown the entire human race in a whirlwind of turmoil,
sufferings, diseases and death. God brings them the Light of knowledge
to liberate them from this sorrow, caused through ignorance. Knowledge
reveals the Truth and the souls become enlightened. The darkness of
ignorance is dispelled.
Till now the souls were ignorant of - Who am I? Where did I come
from? Where do I go next? How can I regain my original deity life? God’s
knowledge gives them answers to these questions. He also shows the path
to attain salvation. So they are very alert not to allow the sleep of
ignorance, the sleep that comes at the wrong time.
During the whole night intense effort is made to enhance their
spiritual awareness. They become aware of the soul, Supreme soul, matter
They keep their aim and objective before them. To see God, to
experience God, to become elevated and attain salvation is the goal of
Another aspect of Shivrathri is linking with God. The soul seeks the
company of God to become elevated. It has to regain the noble ‘sanskars’
diminished through maya’s company. True to the saying “We are coloured
by the company we keep”, in God’s company we naturally have visions of
our own highest self, that is the most virtuous stage of consciousness.
It is a wonderful experience to have the awareness of our taking a
spiritual birth with the incarnation of our Supreme Father God Shiva.
Devotees have visions of Shiva in three main forms
Shivrathri is linking with God
Devotees affirm this communion with God through prayer and
meditation. They look up to God as Creator, Sustainer of life and
Destroyer of evil. The five fold task of God is depicted in the -
Nadarajah statue - Dance of Shiva.
The little drum in one hand symbolizes the awakening of souls. The
sounding of that drum is to invoke souls and make them part of creation.
The hand of blessings symbolises God’s sustenance of the souls.
The fire symbolises knowledge through which souls become enlightened
and burn away the impurities. It is called the fire of knowledge. The
foot placed on ‘Muyalagan’ symbolises the supremacy over Maya. The
raised foot symbolises the upliftment of the souls. Their sins are
absolved and are taken into God’s kingdom.
The Jyothirlingam in Shiva temples is worshipped with religious
fervour by the devotees during Shivrathri.
Devotees have visions of Shiva in three main forms namely Nithyananda
swaroopam, Gyan swaroopam and Prakash swaroopam.
It means He is Blissful, Knowledgeful and Light. Devotees believe
that Shiva appeared before Brahma and Vishnu as a beam of light. That
God is light could be experienced through yoga, the link with God. God
Shiva, the Almighty Authority has come down to earth to salvage His
His method of upliftment is through spiritual knowledge.
Understanding of the soul, Supreme soul and world drama will redeem the
world from further degradation and sorrow. God the Father is unique. He
has no image or body of His own or physical organs to perform His task.
So He takes the body of a mature corporeal being whom He names
Brahma. Merciful God grants liberation and salvation to all souls. God
the father descends to earth, at the end of every cycle which is 5000
years. It is called the confluence age, the period when Shiva descends
to earth. It’s also called the Diamond Age because of its importance.
The souls receive knowledge, realize the purpose of life and set a
definite aim and objective for the future. To achieve this goal God is
teaching Raja Yoga, a way of meditation that makes one self-sovereign,
free from the fetters of karmic bondages.
The children enjoy total happiness through this meeting with the
father. God always remains happy and we get the awareness that we too
become happy with pure and positive thoughts.
You make God, the Almighty Authority your friend and all obstacles
fizzle to nothing. This is the true benefit of Shivrathri. You may be
weak, but when the Almighty Authority is combined with you - then use
Him at the time of need. Do not use Him just for namesake.
We all have the faith that Shivrathri festival is a pure desire to
celebrate with love the anniversary of God’s re-incarnation, sharing the
joy of a new consciousness, new learning and an elevated peaceful life.
May everyone on earth receive the boon of an Ever-Healthy and Happy
Life, full of prosperity, as a well-deserved Godly Birthright.
Munneswaram temple, Chilaw Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar
The Chariot or Ther festival of the ancient and historical
Munneswaram Shivan temple was held on February 17, 2011. In fact, this
temple is situated at nearby pearling and fishing town of Chilaw.
Munneswaram, along with Koneswaram (Trincomalee), Naguleswaram (Keerimalai),
Thiruketheeswaram (Mannar) and Rameswaram (India) forms the five
Ishwarams dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Portuguese, after the arrival in Sri Lanka in 1505, began a
campaign of forced conversion and destruction of many Buddhist and Hindu
Temples around the Island. They destroyed the Munneswaram temple
completely in 1578 with the exception of the basement and used the core
of the building as a Roman Catholic Chapel.
They used iron bars to destroy the presiding Deity. According to a
1640 Portuguese records, they were able to convert 500 people from the
village of Munneswaram as Roman Catholics. However the locals and temple
administrators were able to hide many of the idols of the Temple Complex
before the destruction.
Following the destruction, the Munneswaram village came under the
control of the expanding Kingdom of Sitawaka, led by its King Rajasingha
I (1581-1593), who continuously harassed the Portuguese during his
reign. Rajasingha I rebuilt the Temple again, but due to continuous
conflict most of the area around the temple was depopulated and proper
cultivation of lands abandoned. Irrigation tanks, which provided water
for cultivation, fell into disuse.
The Portuguese again destroyed the Temple in the early 17th century,
but the temple was rebuilt by the local people. It was nominally in
usage when Kirthi Sri Rajasingha (1742-1782) of the Kandyan Kingdom had
to superstructure rebuilt in the 1750s. The Kalasam on the top was made
of silver, a work of Art displaying affinity to South India’s Dravidian
The Kumbabhishekam (Consecration) ceremony was performed in the year
1753 and for the performance of Daily and special riots of the temple
Kirthi Sri Rajasingha made a grant of lands to the priests.
It was recorded that in 1830, the temple festival attracted thousands
of people from the surrounding village, but by 1870 the temple was
abandoned again. One of the reasons was the depopulation of the village,
due to various causes and the convention of paddy lands into plantations
from subsite farming. By 1816, Munneswaram village had hardly 64 people
and the entire Munneswaram division had 1008 people in 63 villages.
A Tamil family from Munneswaram village controls the priestly
position of the Kali Temple. The Shiva temple was renovated in 1875 by
the personal efforts of Cumaraswamy Kurukal. Improvements were effected
again in 1919 and 1963 through public support from Tamil Hindus from
Colombo and Jaffna.
The temple has become very popular amongst the Sinhalese and they
make up over 78 percent of the pilgrims to both Shiva and Kali temples.
The presiding Deity Lord Shiva is installed in the form of Lingom in
the sanctum sanctorum. The Shiva temple’s architectural details conform
to what is written down in the Hindu Scriptures known as Agamas.
The Shiva temple faces East and has three pathways around it. A
Sacred pond is situated in front of the Shiva Temple and a Fig tree
stands by the side of it. Furthermore, the Shiva temple is surrounded by
various other temples and shrines. To the South East of the Shiva temple
is a shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha.
The popular temple dedicated to Kali stands in the Northern part of
the pathway. In the South West of the outer courtyard is another temple
dedicated to Ganesha. Within the Shiva temple there are shrines
dedicated to Navagraha (Nine planets), the sixty three Saivite
Indeed, Munneswaram temple is well known for its celebrations of
Navarathri and Sivarathri functions. Navarathri lasts for nine days and
is dedicated to various aspects of the presiding Goddesses, whereas
Sivarathri is dedicated Lord Shiva. Both these functions primarily
attract Hindus to the Temple.
The Annual Munneswaram festival is an important part of the Temple
and it attracts Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics and even Muslims. Until
1830s the Festival lasted upto 18 days, but since the 1960s it lasts for
This was followed by 13 days of internal temple processions conducted
in the outer pathways of the Siva Temple. On each day of the festival,
the images of Ganesha, Skanda were paraded around the temple.
Devotees visit the temple to attend the Daily poojas and make their
offerings. Booths were erected outside for the sale of food, drink,
brassware, pottery, cloth and holy images.
On the final day of the festival, two large chariots were drawn by
the devotees to the Deduru oya, a local river for Thirtham (Holy Bath)
ceremony when the images were dipped into the river. At the same time
thousands of devotees also jumped into the river.
After the Holy Bath, the procession went back to the temple along a
route through Chilaw, accompanied by traditional Nadeswaram and Thavil
Musicians. The procession then passed through Kali temple prior to
entering the main temple.
Hence, let us pray the Guardian Deity Lord Shiva at Munneswaram
Temple and receive His Divine blessings for everlasting peace and
eternal prosperity in Sri Lanka.
The foundation stone laying ceremony for the new kovil of
Sri Maha Lakshmi and Subramaniar attached to the Sri Bala
Selva Vinayagar Moorthy Kovil, Captain’s garden Maradana,
Colombo 10 took place recently. Here chief priest Rev S
Radhakrishnan Kurukkal, Sculptor Sri Kandadas Ravindraraja
and the Trustees Board members participate in the Pooja.
The annual ‘ther’ chariot festival of the Sri Muthumariamman
Kovil Kotahena Colombo 13 was held under the patronage of a
large number of devotees last week. Here the chief priests
along with the trustees board committee conducting the
special pooja, before the commencement of the chariot
The commemoration music festival “Sri Thiyagaraja Aradhana”
to honour devotional music composer, Saiva Saint
Thiyagarajar Swamigal took place at the Indian Cultural
Centre Colombo 7 last week. It was organised by the Indian
High Commission. Here an item in progress. Pictures by A