“Does being so far out at sea in a small pirogue require courage?” I ask him.
Twenty-six-year-old Simba Garraway chuckles.
While the rest of the national community dance to the soca, chutney music and calypsoes, devout Hindus will be at mandirs and other places of worship in observance of Shiva Raatri on Thursday night.
It is the night of the great awakening of Lord Shiva, the Absorber of the Universe, who is also the Third Force in the Hindu pantheon of the Godhead. Hindus will keep vigil all night. Lord Shiva is the Redeemer as well as the Destructive Force which is manifested in all aspects of creation. Lord Shiva embodies in Himself the positive ideals of renunciation, asceticism, serenity and all negative human values as untruthfulness, vanity, ignorance, impurity, deceit and deception.
Hindus consider Shiva Raatri as one of their most noble and monumental observances on their calendar. The 400-odd temples across the country will be holding vigils. These temples include the Edinburgh Hindu Temple, the Chaguanas Mandir, the Longdenville Temple, the Caparo Shiva Mandir, the Seva Sangh of Caparo, the Felicity Hindu Mandir, the Gasparillo Hindu Mandir, and the Blue Star of Bandoo Trace, Claxton Bay.
Lord Shiva is depicted as static as well as dynamic. He is the principle of changelessness. For some, Shiva Raatri celebrates the night when Lord Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava or Cosmic Dance of Primordial Creation, Preservation and Destruction. The dance itself and the encircling fire symbolise a recognition that, within the cycle of destruction, exists the seeds of regeneration and rebirth. Shiva Raatri does not represent an isolated occurrence, but rather represents the Cosmic and Spiritual Cycle necessary for each age to exist, to be transformed, renewed and, in this way, maintain social and spiritual order.
In any country, and in every age, true freedom and true democracy will only thrive when such social and spiritual order is achieved. This process must be carefully and honourably navigated throughout each stage.
As a society, we cannot afford to forget that public order, personal security, economic and social prosperity requires ceaseless effort and attention, especially from those entrusted to ensure such realisation.
In today’s world, filled with disbelief, injustice and ignorance, Shiva Raatri signals a challenge and a clarion call to people to rekindle their faith in the Supreme Principle of righteous living. The strife and conflict among human beings reflect a forgetfulness of a fundamental unity within humanity.
Mankind tends to forget the great truth of a binding and universal divinity within all beings and we can lose our battle in humanity because we see each individual as separate from one another. Maha Shiva Raatri is the most auspicious night dedicated to Lord Shiva who is the Third member of the Hindu Trinity of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
In our country, observances are held in all temples not only on the night of Shiva Raatri, but also on the days leading to the celebration itself where Lord Shiva yagnas are organised throughout the country requiring devotees and followers to abstain, fast and observe strict spiritual disciplines. The devotee is thus engrossed in purified thoughts and actions that should keep him or her from unwelcome distraction. In Hinduism, the manifestation of inherent divinity is the crucial thing. It is central to treading the path of spiritual quest. Spiritual blindness cannot be wiped out with theoretical narration of scriptural texts, and the need is to listen to the clarion call and the exhortations in the revered texts.
Hindu texts have stressed the revelation of inherent divinity, and by implication, this means we have to know our real Self to get over the pangs of the mortal world and return to the abode of Eternal Peace.
May you all have a very holy, gratifying and beneficial Shiva Raatri observance. Om Namaha Shambhavaayacha Mayo Bhavaaaya Cha. Namah Shankaraaya Cha Mayaskaraaya Cha. Namah Shivaaya Cha Shivataraay Cha.
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