Maha Shivaratri brings Hindus together at Cove and John Ashram

The massive Maha Shivaratri celebration, which is commemorated annually to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva, was successfully organised on Thursday in a safe setting for Hindus to offer prayers during the pandemic.
Temples were opened throughout the day for limited gatherings in order for everyone to be accommodated. In the previous years, these numbers would accumulate to thousands.

Persons gather to offer grains at the giant havan kund

The Guyana Sevashram Sangha at Cove and John, East Coast Demerara saw a significant turnout of devotees this time around. For decades, it has remained as the nucleus during Shivaratri celebrations, and this time around, the spacious lawns served as an advantage to maintain safe distancing to participate in the mass havan ceremony and continuous chanting.
Shiva embodies the destroyer of evil, and Maha Shivraatri translates to “Great Night of Shiva”. The name also refers to the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance or Tandav. Ultimately, Shiva, also known as Mahadeva, is considered the destroyer in the Hindu Trinity.
For this, prayers continue for an entire day, and fruits and milk are offered at intervals, along with flowers, bael leaves, honey, curd, rosewater and other ingredients. It is recommended to remain awake at night, following meditation and chants to increase spirituality.
Speaking at the official ceremony, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr K J Srinivasa, lauded the endeavour to sustain celebrations such as this, even as Guyana is located thousands of kilometres away from India.

“In spite of that distance (from) the motherland, and in spite of having gone through travails your ancestors ensured, you stick to the Indian traditions, you follow the rituals which are embodying your worship and way of life…I feel heartened that thousands of kilometres away from India, we’re seeing this little India, if I may say so,” the High Commissioner expressed.
Meanwhile, Swami Shivashankarananda, who is based at the ashram, said this occasion is an ideal time for reflection and to ensure that everyone practises good ideals towards each other.

Persons gather to offer grains at the giant havan kund

“Maha Shivaratri is a major festival within the Hindu culture because it is marked as overcoming darkness and ignorance in the world. During this day, it is observed by remembering Shiva in prayers, fasting, chanting and meditation; ethics and virtues of self-restraint, honesty to others, forgiveness, kindness, and the discovery of Shiva are the primary focus and ultimate goal,” the Swami reminded.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Anil Nandlall expressed in his remarks that Guyana is in a peaceful mode – one of the qualities sought after by people during this festival. However, he noted that the country is simultaneously faced with challenges which Government must overcome.
“Today there is peace, there is progress, and there is prosperity in this land. But those challenges, and those who are bent relentlessly on presenting these challenges, are still with us, and therefore we have to continue to be vigilant. Every day there is a struggle, on the one hand to push this country forward, develop this country, to improve the lives of our people, to improve the welfare of our children, and to build a safer society for all of us. And Government is pushing that agenda every day,” Nandlall said as he represented President Irfaan Ali.
Different accounts have described the significance of Maha Shivaratri. While it is regarded as the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction, another story identifies that it was the day he married Goddess Parvati. Another adds that Lord Shiva had consumed the poison that was produced due to the war between gods and demons. He held the poison in his throat, which caused it to turn blue. (Rupa Seenaraine)