Hindus around the world celebrate Shiva with the annual festival Mahashivratri

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Mahashivratri is an annual festival in Hinduism. It is celebrated in honor of the god Shiva. In every "luni-solar" monththe 13th night/14th dayonce a year in the late winter and just before spring, marks Maha Shivratri: "the great night of Shiva."

A major festivalMaha Shivratriis a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and world. Ardent devotees (followers of Shiva) will chant prayers, fast, meditate on ethics and virtues like righteousness, self-discipline, forgiveness, mutual respect and, the discovery of Shiva. On this day of the year, some will pull an all-nighters while praying and performing the Shiv Abhishek.

But, why do over 1.08 billion adherents worship Shiva? The concept of Trimurti demystifies the "functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction." "Brahma" is the creator, "Vishnu" is the preserver/maintainer, and "Shiva" is the destroyer/transformer of the universe. These deities are referred as the "The Great Trinity." Coming back to Shiva, he is the most prominent figure of Hindu spiritual traditions.

According to the international nonprofit organization Isha website, modern science teaches us that "everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing." Basic existence and, the fundamental quality of cosmos is barely confirmed. Galaxies are simply small happenings/sprinkles. The rest, empty space belongs to Shiva. It is the ‘womb’ where everything first originated. That vacuum is basically where everything comes and goes back to Shiva. As a non-being, Shiva is the definition of darkness, and not light.

Definitely, humans eulogize light as it is the source of life. But, darkness has an equal importance. It is much bigger. Eternal and omnipresent, darkness is an intelligent concept on the planet about the creation. Shiva amazed scientists globally. This has been known for thousands of years. Almost every single Indian could tell his story without much understanding of the science behind it.

Shiva is a yogi. One that has experienced the union is technically a yogi. Shiva has been absolute nothingness. In a dialectical culture, like India's, Shiva was often represented as two opposed facets. Shiva is either described as the man who introduced yoga(the science and technology of the nature of life existence) or the ultimate possibility.

His image is, unfortunately, painted and featured in most of the Indian calendar art as a blue-colored man with a chubby face and a moon on his head. He is not seen as a god. But, as a being who walked and lived in the Himalayan region. However, one can spend a lifetime trying to decipher Shiva. Temples were built to venerate Shiva. He is represented in the general form of a linga ("a phallic object").

On February 24, this year, Maha Shivratri took place around different places in the world. Activities like fasting and the ‘Char Phere puja’(the process of offerings to the Linga at four different time slots from dust and throughout the night) were also seen at the Shivala of Downtown Chicago. The night concluded at around 6 a.m. with the last "phere" (round) and the beginning of dawn.