Toronto, Canada

Feb 24: Maha Shivaratri Satsang

Stone Shiva Lingam and Nandi buried in white flower petals
Altar after Shiva Puja

A night of bhajans, prayers and puja in honour of Lord Shiva

Dark stone Shiva Lingam and Nandi on silver plate

On Febrary 24, 2017, at 8:30 PM, devotees gathered in Toronto for the celebration of Maha Shivaratri, the Great Night of Lord Shiva. Though the weather outside was stormy with thick fog, the atmosphere in the satsang was calm and bright. The altar, wreathed with garlands of fresh jasmine, white roses and lotus blossoms, was a marvel of beauty. (Click here for photo slideshow).

Satsang commenced with opening prayers and the chanting of Amma's Ashtottaram (108 names), followed by a 10-minute meditation. Three bhajans were then sung: Guru Charanam, Mangal Vadana, and Jai Jai Sadguru Maharani. After the bhajans, Amma's Shivaratri message was read. This message explained how Maha Shivaratri is a festival of austerity, wherein devotees give up food and sleep in remembrance of God. Amma reasoned that since God spends every day and night watching over us, we should spend at least one night watching over him.

Pouring milk on dark stone Shiva LingamAfter the reading, two more bhajans were sung: Chandrasekharaya Namah Om, and Mrityumjayaya Namah Om. Lingashtakam and Om Namah Shivaya were chanted while each devotee offered abhisekham to the Shiva Lingam, using milk, yogurt, honey, ghee and Ganga water. The Shiva Lingam was then adorned with sandalwood paste, kumkum and vibhuti and garlanded with fresh jasmine flowers. Lord Shiva's Ashtottaram Shatanamavali (108 names) were then chanted, with the offering of flower petals and bilva leaves to the Shiva Lingam.

Picture of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha with garlandFollowing the puja, the devotees sang Prabhu Misham, Sattyatin Saram, Pannaga Bhusana, and Shambo Sankara. A brief video of Amma explaining the value of satsang was shown, followed by more soulful bhajans: Vilvathal Architom, Bholanath Re, Mohalu Champara, Devadi Deva, He Manjunatha Karta Pranam, and Hara Om Shiva Om. Charged with the energy of the bhajans, the devotees chanted Om Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu, then Om Tryambakam Yajamahe, and finally Nirvana Shatakam of Adi Shankaracharya, asserting: 'Mano Buddhyahamkara Citaani Naaham … Shivoham Shivoham! I am not the mind, intelligence or ego! I am Shiva! I am Shiva!' The satsang concluded at 12:30 PM with Arati and closing prayers. Despite the late hour, the devotees were all energized and very happy.

Click here to view a slideshow of photos from the Maha Shivaratri Satsang.

Altar with Amma's photo, garlands and fresh flowers