Mahashivratri: Maha Prasadam Event By Swasti Yoga Center

This past Friday I journeyed to a 1800 year old shiva temple with members of the Swasti Yoga Center community including the founders Dr. Vikas and Dr. Shweta. This day was significant because it was the festival called Mahashivratri, a celebration of the Hindu god Shiva. Shiva is the destroyer and also the god of yoga. He was the first yogi and taught yoga to his wife Parvati, while doing so a fish with a man inside of it witnessed the practice and that man went on to teach yoga to humans.

We took a long train ride and then a car ride up a small mountain to arrive at the temple. The temple was carved from stone and had many pillars and a square shaped pool of water near the entrance. There was a sculpture of a cow and Dr. Shweta told me that whatever I whisper in the cow’s ear will be heard by Shiva.

After walking through the temple and having the opportunity to whisper and pray to Shiva, we went and sat down beneath a tent that had been set up in the front of the temple. The shade was very welcome after the long journey I endured that morning. There was a lady standing and singing along with an entire band gathered around playing traditional instruments. Between songs she would tell a story in Hindi. The music and singing was enchanting and you could feel the energy of the temple that has stood and heard prayers and singing for centuries. People have been pilgrimaging to this point for more years than I am capable of comprehending.

Although I did not understand the story I enjoyed the music and everyone clapping along to the rhythm. There were people serving free food and the children I came there with handed out warm sweet milk to everyone who wanted some. Everyone seemed comfortable and familiar with the festivities and the practice of honoring Shiva on this day.

On our walk back Dr. Shweta told me the story that was told during the festival. Here is the story as I remember it being told to me. There was a party that Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, was holding. She had her husband (Vishnu) sit upon one end of a scale and all the guests had to place something on the other end until it was equal weight to Vishnu. Lakshmi purposely did not invite Parvati, but Parvati showed up anyway thinking it must have been a mistake. She was so embarrassed upon arrival because she had nothing to add to the scale and Lakshmi encouraged her humiliation. One God at the party witnessed this and went off to tell Shiva what was happening, so Shiva gave the messenger one of his hairs for Parvati to add to the scale. Upon receiving the hair Parvati placed it on the scale and it immediately shifted to be equal in weight to Vishnu. Vishnu got up and told Parvati that she was the most honored Goddess.

Dr. Shweta looked at me and said, “isn’t that a beautiful story?” I replied by saying “yes it is” and we continued on our way back to the city.