Sadhana Mandir devotees performed puja at individual altars for Mahashivratri
(Left) A child bathes the Shivalingam with milk and water (abhishek) at Sadhana Mandir in Global Mall. (Photography by Vinod)
The age-old Hindu festival of Mahashivratri was celebrated with the usual fervor and devotion by the devotees of Sadhana Mandir in the Impact Conference Center in Global Mall in Norcross, Georgia on Monday, March 4, 2019. Many volunteers had worked hard the previous few days to collect necessary items for the puja. They reassembled the night before and the day of the puja to decorate the hall, set up the altar, and arrange about 150 platforms (small altars, see photo below) for the devotees to sit with relatives and friends to perform the detailed puja.
Acharya Ved P. Joshi ji, the temple priest and acharya, led hundreds of devotees in a series of steps of the puja from 6pm-9pm. The puja was followed by a delicious mahaprasad (vegetarian meal) enjoyed by about 700 participants. There was separate mahaprasad for those who were fasting. Over 9,500 devotees came to the temple throughout the day. The same puja was repeated by Joshi ji in the temple from 10pm-midnight for the volunteers who worked tirelessly during the puja earlier and also for the benefit of those who were unable to participate earlier in the evening. Several devotees, young, old, and even kids volunteered to replenish puja samagri to the families performing the puja rituals.
Joshi ji started with Ganapati Pooja, then went on to perform Shivparivar Pooja, Shiv Pooja, complete Rudrabhishek, Bilvashtakam, Shiv Astoram 108 Names, Shiv Nam Mahima. The devotees watched him and followed his instructions at their own platforms. The formal puja culminated with some bhajans and aarti of Lord Shiva.
Tava tattwamna janami kidrishosi maheshwara | yadrashosi mahadeva tadrashaya namo namah || (“I do not know the truth of your nature and who you are—O great God, my salutations to your true nature.")
(Right) Closeup of Abhishek at Sadhana Mandir. (Photography by Vinod)
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF MAHASHIVARATRI
In Hindi, Shivaratri means the night of Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 13th night thru the 14th day of the Maagha month (per Hindu calendar) in the Krishna paksha (waning moon). The festival is celebrated by offerings of dhatura and bel leaves to Lord Shiva followed by an abhishek (bathing) of the Shiva-ling with milk and water. The devout devotees resort to fasting throughout the day and a night-long vigil. Everybody chants the sacred panchakshara mantra dedicated to the Lord “om namah Shivay.”
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