Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 14th 2015 Contents A30
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, February 14, 2015
Hindus around the world will cel-
ebrate Maha Shivaratri on February
17th. Here in T&T too, the auspicious
occasion is celebrated with great pomp.
Maha Shivaratri is dedicated to the
Hindu god Shiva and while most fes-
tivals are celebrated during the day,
this particular one is celebrated at night
---the 13th lunar night into the 14th
day (one day before the new moon)
during the Hindu month of Phagun.
"Lord Shiva is the third God in the
Hindu triumvirate (three God heads)"
explained Pandit Ramesh Kissoon, spir-
itual leader of the La Plaisance Road
Hindu Mandir, La Romaine. The Hindu
triumvirate consists of three gods
responsible for upkeep, creation and
destruction of the universe. "The other
two are Brahma and Vishnu" he
explained further. "Brahma is the creator
of the universe, Vishnu the preserver
and Shiva, the destroyer but he destroys
the universe in order to recreate it."
"It is easy to misunderstand the words
creator, preserver and destroyer " the
pandit added. "Brahma brings into man-
ifestation that which already exists,
Vishnu sustains all of these creations
to ensure that the universe works the
way it is designed to work while Shiva
reabsorbs everything until such time
that manifestation takes place again."
You are probably asking yourself
which god will want to destroy and why
would that god destroy. The spiritual
leader addressed this: "Hindus believe
that Shiva s powers of destruction and
creation are used to destroy the illusions
and the imperfections of this world.
This is done to pave the way for ben-
eficial change---constructive destruction
---so for this reason Lord Shiva is seen
as a source of good combining many
The powerful Hindu god is depicted
as a man with a blue face or throat,
ashy white in colour or entirely blue in
some images. Kissoon related a popular
story which speaks about the god s
colour: "In order to get amrit (nectar
of life) from the bottom of the ocean,
gods and demons churned the ocean
and many things came up---precious
gems, animals, gold, silver and poison
called Halalal. When this poison came
up it threatened to destroy the entire
world and everyone had to pray to Lord
Shiva to ask him to destroy it. Lord
Shiva took the poison and stored it in
his neck and because of this he was
given the name Neel Kantha which
means the blue-throated one. "
The god also has three eyes. "The
third eye in the middle of forehead rep-
resents the wisdom and foresight Shiva
has and is believed to be his untamed,
raw energy," Kissoon explained. The
tilak (dot in the middle of the forehead)
is placed on the heads of Hindus in an
attempt to encourage devotees to focus
with their inner spiritual eye. There are
three horizontal lines drawn with white
ash on Shiva s forehead (the vibhuti);
"These lines represent his superhuman
power and wealth" said Kissoon "and
the Trishul (trident)---represents the
three functions of the Hindu Trinity
The cobra wrapped around Lord
Shiva s neck in its striking position prob-
ably scares many but as Kissoon related,
"it signifies Lord Shiva s power over the
most dangerous creatures in the world.
"From a more philosophical perspective"
pointed out the pandit, "the snake rep-
resents Kal (time) ever hovering over
us. Lord Shiva is always in meditation
and is depicted as abstaining from all
earthly pleasures. His meditative depic-
tion teaches us that we should always
be concentrating on the lord and that
we should always be ready for when
death strikes because it can strike at
The great god is also represented by
the Linga. "This is a phallic symbol"
says Kissoon "and it represents the raw
power and masculinity of Shiva. Hindus
believe it represents the seed of the uni-
verse demonstrating Shiva s quality of
"You may notice that while many
Hindu gods are depicted in lavish sur-
roundings, Lord Shiva is depicted simply
on skin. "This shows that he is a Maha
Yogi and his attachment to this world
Parvati Devi, his consort, whenever
present, is always at his side and their
relationship is one of equality. "Hinduism
does not subscribe to women being infe-
rior to men" insisted Pandit Kissoon.
"Our roles and responsibilities may be
different but we are in no way superior
or inferior to the other."
He then pointed out that sometimes
one may see images where Lord Shiva
is depicted as half man, half woman.
The pandit disclosed: "Parvati Devi was
complaining that Shiva did not have
time for her and he split his body show-
ing half of his and half of hers saying
you are a part of me; you are always
While Shiva appears as an ascetic and
is detached from worldly things, balance
is struck and he shows contradictory
behaviour when it comes to the rela-
tionship with his consort and his two
sons. He is known to be a passionate
lover but within the bounds of marriage.
The pandit then reminded us that
even though Shiva is seen as peaceful
we should remember that "still waters
run deep---Shiva really holds great power
internally; a power that exists in all of
us---a power for greatness."
So what is Maha Shivaratri all about?
On the Hindu calendar there are 12 Shiv-
aratris but Maha Shivaratri is especially
important because it is believed that this
is the night when Lord Shiva performed
the Tandav dance or the dance of cre-
ation, preservation and destruction.
"On this night" Kissoon stated, "Hin-
dus perform ling puja while we pray for
neutrality of mind, body and soul. We
pray that our scales must be balanced
and we must not be swayed to any
extreme. Married couples also pray to
Shiva and Parvati for happiness in mar-
riage since they are upheld as the perfect
example of marital bliss."
Pandit Ramesh Kissoon, Spiritual Leader of the La Plaisance Road Hindu Mandir, La Romaine.
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