With the growth of the number of temples in the Boston area, Shivarathri night has become a night for temple hopping for me. There is indeed something mystical and magical about staying up at night and watching the Abhishekam of Shiva Lingams at the temples.
While all the temples and the prayers fill me with great joy, the greatest joy I have is ending my Shivarathri sojourn at the Sri Siddha Lalitha Peetham in Burlington. Dance is my absolute favorite way of offering prayer and the priest Bhavani Atmaram Baba joyous encouragement of prayer through dance and his own offering of Nrityanjali is always a magnificent spiritual experience for me.
All Hindu traditions believe in the importance of dance as a prayer. In the ISKON philosophy it is believed that if you could dance freely in front of the Lord all sins will disappear.
The beauty of Bhavani Atmaram Baba is that he just picks a song to dance to and organizes the dancers in the room and directs as he goes along. This year the choice of song was “Vargalamo Aiyya”, a famous composition from Nandanar Chritram. In the composition, the poet asks Lord Nataraja if he can come close to him and sing and dance in His Sannidhi.
As I was dancing this piece with Baba, I realized how blessed we are in this century that we can indeed go close to the Deities and dance. Sometimes we take this as a program or a simple dance program, but if danced with realization, we could indeed feel the divinity flow through us and hopefully our sins will wash away.
For all of you visiting a temple on Shivarathri night, get up and dance the night away , and experience the joy that is given to us by the great Lord Nataraja.