On the auspicious day of Maha Shivraatri, thousands of Hindus across the world join in unity to observe the celebration and seek purification.
In Guyana, it is no different as hundreds of devotees swarmed through the gates of the Guyana Sevashram Sangha in Cove and John, East Coast Demerara on Monday in observance of the auspicious occasion celebrating the birth of Lord Shiva.
As part of the proceedings, the devotees were required to set their daily lives aside and go before the Lord Shiva in prayers, fasting and offerings for the duration of 24 hours.
This offers purification to the mind and body, opening paths for prosperous and blissful lives, once one is genuinely purged of one’s wrongdoings.
As the activity has become widespread, over the years, developing into one of the largest gatherings for a religious event, overseas-based devotees return to Guyana to fellowship with their fellow devotees.
This day is one of the most elating times for the Hindu society as it presents the opportunity to make it right with their Lord Shiva.
To observe the auspicious day with the Hindu community, President David Granger, along with Social Cohesion Minister Amna Ally, visited the Mandir.
During the President’s speech, he deemed the activity as one which added to the diverse cultural history of Guyana which endowed more significance on the country.
Granger also lauded the Ashram for playing an essential role in advancing Guyana’s Hindu community through interactive activities which he said have caused the religion to thrive.
”The rich traditions and festivals of Hinduism have knitted the local Hindu community together and have ensured that Hinduism remains vibrant in Guyana,” he said.
The President encouraged that regardless of religion, there should be peaceful coexistence in the nation, since Guyana has a range of various religious preferences. He added that in order to foster harmony and social cohesion, there must be religious freedom, which he acknowledged existed in Guyana. The President boasted that this religious freedom in Guyana meant the country did not have to endure unfortunate events of violent religious conflicts.
Adding to the President’s call for social cohesion, Minister Ally shared the view that in spite of religious background or preference, there should be an atmosphere of peace and love. This, she said, would promote Guyana’s goal of moving forward as a nation.
She noted that it was her hope that the bodies would work together to further advance progress in not only the Hindu community but among other religious groups in Guyana.
Thousands of Hindus residing in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) turned up early Monday at various temples in observance of the sacred day in the Hindu calendar, Maha Shivaratri. A large number of persons were seen very early at the seawalls, drenching their bodies in the waters of the Atlantic and making offerings while reciting special prayers in the name of Lord Shiva.
Most Hindus fasted on the auspicious day and spent their day visiting temples uttering the panchakshari mantra – “om namah shivaya”.
At various temples including Golden Fleece, Anna Regina, Cotton Field, Perseverance, Sparta and Hampton, persons were neatly dressed in their Indian attire and surrounded “hawan kund” making offerings. Mandirs prepared seven curries, prashad, and sweet rice, which were offered to those visiting.
At various temples, pandits and religious educators informed the gathering of the significance of the day. Hindus were reminded about the power of Lord Shiva and what they can attain from observing the great day of Maha Shivaratri “Great night of Shiva”. They were reminded that no matter how many mistakes one has made in one’s life, if one were a strong and devoted devotee to Lord Shiva, all one’s sins would be forgiven.
Speaking with this newspaper about the significance of the festival in the Hindu calendar, Swami Shivashankaranandaji of the Cove and John Ashram, said that “Maha Shivaratri” literally means “a great night for Lord Shiva”. The Swami said Maha Shivaratri was the most important festival for devotees of Lord Shiva and has been accorded much significance in the Hindu calendar.
“It says that a devotee who performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivratri is absolved of sins and attains moksha/liberation, this itself is very significant,” Swami Shivashankaranadaji pointed out.