MahaShivaratri Celebrations at The Hindu Temple of the Woodlands
By Beth Kulkarni
THE WOODLANDS: The Hindu Temple of the Woodlands (HTW) held a magnificent celebration of MahaShivaratri, the night of Shiva, on February 24, continuing until Saturday morning at 8 am.
The celebration began at 8:30 a.m. on Friday with Rudra Abhishekam. The Abhishekam, or bathing, of Lord Shiva was done with the traditional substances by the presiding priest. Following this was the alankaram (adorning) of Shiva Lingam.
Meanwhile, devotees, in addition to observing the Abhishekam as performed by the priest, were able to pour milk and then water, doing their own personal Abhishekam on a smaller murthi of Lord Shiva located temporarily on a platform between Lord Ganesha and Maha Shiva. This opportunity was again available beginning from 6:00 p.m. and continuing throughout the night.
Following the first Abhishekam of the day and the distribution of tirtham (liquid prasadam or offerings) as well as fruit prasadam to the devotees, the temple was closed until evening.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Ekadasa Dravya (or eleven materials, in this case being eleven types of fruit juice) was the next type of Abhishekam. Also the Tamil traditional purée with bananas, dried fruit and other items was used at this time. The alankaram (adorning of the Lord) consisted of wreaths of many different types of fruits and vegetables, draped around Lord Shiva.
During the evening, some devotees chanted Vedic mantras and groups from children to seniors led Bhajans for Lord Shiva.
Bhasma (holy ash) Abhishekam followed at 10 p.m., with Chandana (sandalwood) Abhishekam held on early Saturday morning. After each, the priests did a beautiful and colorful alankaram, using bhasma and dried fruit for the respectively. The final Abhishekam was of cooked rice which was served as prasadam for devotees on Saturday morning. The final alankaram for the celebration was of many different types of beautiful flowers.
The celebration for all was one of great beauty, devotion, and religious fervor, to be long remembered.
The next major HTW festival is Holi – Festival of Colors on Saturday, March 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the temple’s premises. It will include playing with colored powders, music, dance and moderately-priced, freshly made Indian snacks and sweets. There will be a short Fun Run at 11:30 a.m. with the $10/ adult fee (children are free) going to the Montgomery County Food Bank. All are invited to attend. Bring your friends and neighbors!
The Hindu Temple of The Woodlands is located at 7601 S Forestgate Dr, just off Woodlands Parkway, in The Woodlands (Spring), TX 77382. It serves the religious, cultural, educational, and social needs of the surrounding community.
For further information visit www.woodlandshindutemple.org