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Hindu Temple Of New Hampshire Celebrates Maha Shivaratri

K. Arvind
03/09/2017

Hindu Temple of New Hampshire
Celebrates Maha Shivaratri

 ब्रह्ममुरारि सुरार्चित लिङ्गं निर्मल भासित शोभित लिङ्गं |
जन्मजदुखः विनाशक लिङ्गं तत् प्रणमामि सदाशिव लिङ्गं ||

I bow before the eternal Shiva, in the form of the pure, brilliant and well-adorned Lingam,
which is worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu  and all the divinities, and which destroys life’s sorrows
.”

 (A verse from Lingashtakam - a Sanskrit prayer in praise of Lord Shiva)

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, Nashua, NH celebrated the annual Maha Shivaratri festival on Friday night, February 24th, 2017. The sublime celebration that attracted an impressive crowd of devotees, commenced early in the evening and continued through the entire night till dawn. The night of spiritual vigil included various services and observances including 4 kalas or cycles of linga abhishekam accompanied by the chanting of ekadasha rudram, and devotional bhajans in various languages by children and adult devotees. The hallowed festival wonderfully reinforced the spiritual vibes established by the recently celebrated consecration function.

MAHA SHIVARATRI

Maha Shivaratri (“The Great Night of Shiva”) is an annual Hindu festival celebrated around this time of the year when the waning darkness of winter gives way to the emerging brightness of spring. This auspicious festival, which symbolizes the emergence from the darkness of ignorance into the light of wisdom, is celebrated with great fervor in Temples all over the world where Lord Shiva is enshrined. The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, now in its 9th year of service to the devotee community in Greater Boston, has been celebrating Maha Shivaratri in a grand manner every year since inception. This year, with the recent arrival and consecration of new deities including Sri Medha Dakshinamurthy (Lord Shiva in the form of the teacher who imparts the ultimate wisdom through silence) and Sri Kanchi Paramacharya (who many devotees consider to be an incarnation of Lord Shiva), Maha Shivaratri had a special charm and significance.

Maha Shivaratri celebrations at the Temple commenced a few weeks before the actual night of the festival. The main events in these preceding weeks was the “Maha Rudram,” in which the powerful and enthralling vedic mantras known as “Sri Rudram” were chanted by ritwiks over a thousand times collectively. The “Sri Rudram”, which occurs in the heart of the “Krishna Yajur Veda” and includes the revered five-syllable panchakshari mantra (“om nama shivaya”), is ancient and enthralling divine poetry in praise and worship of Lord Shiva, with an undercurrent of implication that that everything is divine, and that divinity is present everywhere and in everything, whether animate or inanimate, be it a person, animal or a tree, and in various aspects of nature including a thorn, rain and lightning (click here to listen to the initial portions of the “Sri Rudram” being chanted at a spiritual conference held at the White House in 2014).

The “Maha Rudram” was spread over multiple chanting sessions, and as required by tradition each session included at least 11 ritwiks, and the 11 parts or anuvakas of the Sri Rudram” were chanted 11 times in each session. The chanting was accompanied by abhishekam (ritual ablution) to a deity. The sessions were preceded by an elaborate traditional ritual (“mahanyasa”) to spiritually purify and symbolically install the divine in the sacred Temple of one’s body before. The “Maha Rudram” concluded on the day of Maha Shivaratri with a “Rudra Homam” – a sacred fire ritual. The ritwik volunteers who participated in this chanting marathon included (in no specific order) Srimantah Veeramani Ranganathan, Manjunath Hassan, Balakrishna Sastry, Dharmarajan Viswanathan, Arvind Krishnamoorthy, T.R. Venkatesh, Krishnan Iyer, Ganapathy Subramaniam, Ram Srinivasan, Nanda Vaidyanathan, Srinivas Bodapati, Sam Mohan, Lakshminarayanan, Giri Bharathan, Ananthakrishnan, Raghav Pattabhiraman, Raidu Rayasam, Satish Narayanan, Girish Sripathi, Balaji Rajamani, Srinivas Gopalan, V. Prabhakar, Balasubramanian Ramakrishnan, Suresh Subramanian and Satyavageeswaran mahadoyaah.

Celebrations on the evening and night of “Maha Shivaratri” night itself consisted of a chatur-kala pooja, consisting of 4 kalas or cycles. Each cycle included the chanting of “Sri Rudram” accompanied by linga abhishekam, and this continued all through the night. The chanting was complemented by devotional music by the young students (Sreekrupa Satyavageeswaran, Aravind Sathappan, Sowmya Dharani and Meghna Kancherla) of Bharathi Vidyashram  the cultural school associated with the Temple. A special highlight of the night was the singing of “Thirumurai”, Tamil prayers in praise of Lord Shiva, by a team of devotees led by Smt. Abhirami Balasubramaniyan, and organized by Sri Dharmarajan Viswanathan.

The auspicious occasion where devotees spent the entire night dwelling on the divine, concluded at dawn with an alankaram (decoration) of the Shiva Linga and prayers for the well-being of the community. All devotees were presented with a commemorative photo frame with pictures of Sri Medha Dakshinamurthy and Sri Kanchi Paramacharya.

The Temple gratefully acknowledges the unflinching contributions of its enthusiastic volunteer corps, the energetic Annapooranis (who prepared the sumptuous prasad for the crowds), the generosity of its sponsors, and the enthusiastic support of the devotees who thronged the Temple on this sacred night.

THE TEMPLE

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire has been serving the cultural and religious needs of the Hindu community in the Greater Nashua and Greater Boston area for 9 years. The Temple has been visited, graced and blessed by many well-known spiritual leaders and scholars. In addition to religious and spiritual activities, the Temple along with its cultural school Bharathi Vidyashram, has also been involved in various cultural and community service activities. Among upcoming service activities in which we invite you to participate are the 3rd Bike for Dharma in Nashua, NH, in support of US veterans in June, and the Walk for Hunger in Boston, MA in May. The Temple which is located off Exit 6 on Route 3 is easily accessible from most locations in the Greater Boston area. The Temple has a full-time priest, Sri Balakrishna Sastry. In addition to “nitya aradhana” (daily poojas), the Temple conducts Gayathri Homam on Saturdays and Sundays as part of a year-long Gayathri Maha Yagna, and celebrates many major Hindu festivals.

The Temple invites devotees to visit the Temple, have darshan and receive the blessings of deities, and participate, sponsor, and volunteer in various Temple activities. The Temple seeks your patronage and support to help it grow and serve you well. Your donations are tax-deductible and may be made out to HTNH, PO Box 7041, Nashua, NH 03060. Please visit http://www.hindutemplenh.org for general information about the Temple and upcoming events. Please contact Sri Veeramani Ranganathan (hindutempleofnh@gmail.com), for any specific information.

Pictures and videos from the event: Link to album with pictures taken by various volunteers

 எளிய நல தீபம் இடல் மலர் கொய்தல்
Lighting the lamps, picking the flowers
அளிது இன் மெழுகல் அது தூர்த்தல் வாழ்த்தல்
Lovingly cleaning the floors, singing the Lord’s praise
தளி மணி பற்றல் பல் மஞ்சனம் ஆதி
Ringing the bell, and fetching ceremonial water

அளி தொழில் செய்வது தான் தாச மார்க்கமே
These simple duties constitute the “dasa marga”

(பத்தாம் திருமுறை – திருமூலர் இயற்றிய திருமந்திரம்)
(Altruistic religious service as prescribed in Thirumoolar’s Thirumanthiram – 10th Thirumurai)

 

 

 

 



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