‘Sivarathri’-the spiritual night of Lord Shiva

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Mahasivarathri (“great night of Lord Shiva”) is celebrated on March 6th this year; it always falls on the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight. Mahasivarathri is considered the most important day for the devotees of Lord Shiva, and there are special celebrations at Sivan temples throughout the island.

The festival known as Sivarathri means “the spiritual night of Lord Shiva”-Lord Shiva, who actually has 1,008 names, being the God of Destruction of evil and ignorance. So Sivarathri spiritually symbolizes the regeneration of the human soul through the unity with divine. The festival is celebrated during the Tamil month of Maasi (February) which falls from February 13th to March 13th.

Lord Shiva is one of the most feared and heavily worshiped deities because of his destructive power. And he is the greatest dancer.

It’s said that Lord Shiva, whose vehicle is a bull, lives on Mount Kailash with his wife Goddess Parvathi. Mount Kailash is a peak in the Gangdise mountains which is part of the Himalayas in Xizang (Tibet), China, the source of some of the longest rivers in Asia and considered as a sacred place in four religions-Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon faith. Amazingly, there have been no recorded attempts to climb Mount Kailash; it is considered off-limits in deference to Buddhist and Hindu beliefs.

On Mahasivarathri devotees observe a day-long strict fast, throng temples and keep a night-long vigil. There are four main poojas held from dusk till dawn. The first begins at 6pm on the Sivarathri day before Mahasivarathri, the last on the following day, the day of Mahasivarathri. The Lingam or Sivalingam is worshipped throughout the day; the image is washed with milk, honey, curd, rose water, saffron and sandalwood every three hours.

The Lingam, meaning “mark” or “sign” is a symbol for the worship of Lord Shiva. While its origins are debated, the use of the lingam is an ancient tradition in India extends back to the early Indus Valley civilization. It is the most prevalent icon of Shiva, found in virtually all Shiva temples. It is a rounded, elliptical image, somewhat phallic, usually set on a circular base. Lingas are usually of stone (either carved or naturally existing, such as shaped by a swift-flowing river), but may also be of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth or transitory materials such as ice.

There are a number of mythological tales and legends related to Mahasivarathri. The most famous is that Brahma the creator and Vishnu the protector fought regarding each other’s prowess. Lord Shiva appeared before them as a pillar of fire-Amal Agni-and challenged them to find his ‘head’ and ‘feet’. Brahma took the form of swan while Vishnu became a boar in trying to find the beginning and ending points of the fire. But both of them failed. Ketaki Flower-Thazham Poo – gave false evidence that Brahma found Lord Shiva’s head. Lord Shiva became angry and cursed the flower to be the abode of a cobra. The flower realised its fault and apologized. Lord Shiva pardoned the flower and allowed it to be used for worship only on Mahasivarathri day. Lord Shiva abandoned the fire and declared himself the most powerful.

Generally it’s believed that whoever chants the name of Lord Shiva with pure devotion is freed from all sins. It’s also believed that the devotees who fasts and worships Lord Shiva on this day will attain heavenly bliss. In addition, Mahasivarathri is considered especially auspicious for women. Unmarried women pray for an ideal husband like Lord Shiva, while married women pray for the wellbeing of their husbands and sons. Cultural programmes add colour to the day at the temples. Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva are sung throughout the night by devotees with great fervour and devotion.

Devotees travel to Thiruketheeswaram in Mannar-one of the five Eashwaram (Sivan temples) in the island-to observe Mahasivarathri. It’s believed the four famous saints, namely Thirugnanasambanthar, Thirunaavukkarasar, Suntharamoorthy Naayanaar and Appar Swamigal, sang devotional songs there praising Lord Shiva.

Thirukoneswaram in Trincomalee, Naguleswaram in Jaffna, Munneswaram in Chilaw, and Thaanthondreeswaram in Batticaloa are the other four Sivan temples in Sri Lanka.

Following pictures are from ‘Sivarathri’ festivities at Munneswaram:

Decorated Sivalingam in the Moolasthanam

Milk is offered to the another Lingam which is behind the Moolasthanam of Munneswaram Sivan Temple

Dance performance at the Munnesawarm temple on Sivarathri night

Four main poojas are held from dusk to dawn

Idols of Sivan and Amman are carried by men at dawn on the following day of Sivarathri at
Munneswaram
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A slide presentation of ‘Thirukoneswaram’, with ‘Thiruvasagam’ rendered by ‘Isai Gnani Ilaiayaraja’:

Keerimalai~A Land of Sacred Springs & Spirituality:

Thiruvasagam-“sacred utterance”-is a set of hymns composed by Sage Manikkavasagar, in praise of Lord Shiva.
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Email:dushi.pillai@gmail.com

Carnatic Music Genius Saint Sri Thyagaraja celebrated in Colombo

By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

‘Every Kirtana is a beautiful temple in which the great composer has installed the God of his heart for worship by those who sing and those who hear’- Rajaji.

All musicians and music lovers gathered to pay tribute, and sing and play the Gems of Thyagaraja. Men and women of all age dreesed gorgeously, and sat cross-legged on the ground. Five Keerthanams are known as the “Panchrathna Keethnanam”. The ‘Pancha Rathna Krithis’ are sung during the Aradhana. They are Jagadananda of Natai Ragam, Dudukugala of Gowla Ragam, Sadinchanae of Arabhi Ragam, Kanakana Ruchira of Varali Ragam and Endharo Mahanu Bhavulu of Sri Ragam. The Pancharatna Kritis of Tyagaraja are in praise of his beloved deity, God Rama and are extremely skilful and beautiful musical compositions. They are all set in Adi Thalam and each ragam represents the mood of the song and the meaning of its lyrics. They are actually set in the style of a Ragam Tanam Pallavi (RTP) with the charanas (stanzas) substituting for the kalpana swaras (improvisatory passages) in the pallavi section of the RTP.

Saint Thyagaraja was a prolific artist and highly influential in the development of the South Indian classical music tradition

Carnatic Music Festival to celebrate the genius of Sri Thyagarajah was held at the Indian Cultural Centre in Colombo on February 15th 2008 at dusk. Thyagaraja Aradhana was held for the second time in Sri Lanka.

The 161st annual Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana celebrations were held in Thiruvaiyaru on 27th of January 2008. Musicians from all over the state gathered and, sat before the Saint’s Samadhi on the banks of river Cauvery, sang “Pancharatna Kritis” and paid homage to him.

Saint Thyagaraja was born on May 4th 1767 in Thiruvarur in Thanjavur district. He was born as the third son of Ramabrahmam and Seethamma. His father’s was a story teller. His family moved to Thiruvaiyaru soon after Saint Thyagaraja was born. Saint Thyagaraja got married to Parvaty in 1784, when he was 18 year-old. His wife Parvathy died in 1789, when he was 23 year-old. He married her sister Kamala in 1790, and got a daughter. Saint Thyagaraja named his daughter Seethalakshmi. It is believed that on January 6th 1847 would be the day when he was excepted to become Mukthi. He attained Samadhi on Pushya Bagula Panchami in Thiruvaiyaru.

Saint Thygaraja was an eminent composer in classical music, poet and a philosopher. He was an extraordinary personality born to teach humanity through music and Rama Bhakthi. He saw Rama as a chief, as a saviour of mankind and a s a Lord of whole universe. Saint Thyagaraja praised him, cajoled him, taunted him, served him and cried for him,

He studied Sanskrit and astrology. He was very well versed in his mother tongue Telugu. Saint Thyagaraja has composed several Kritis. He made use of 200 ragas to compose different Kritis.

The Divyanama Sankeerthanas and Utsava Samprathaya Kritis composed by him are melodies. He composed 1,800 Kritis.He has created two operas namely “Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam”, ” Nowka Chittram” and “SitaRama Vijayam”. He He wrote most of the Kritis in Telugu, and the rest in Sanskrit.

Saint Thyagarja’s music delights and inspires everyone. The Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana is a solemn tribute of all Carnatic artistes to one of the greatest composers ever. It’s a unique festival.

Saint Thyagaraja is considered as the “Music Trinity” of Carnatica music.His compositions are greatly popular due to their simple language, sincere lyrics and very high quality music. He has composed hundreds of devotional songs in praise of the Hindu God Rama

Kids singing “Pancha Rathna Kritis”

Nesan Thiyagarajah is perfoming at the festival

All musicians under one roof to perform at the festival

Section of audience

A percussion instrument called Morsing is played at the festival. It’s also known as “Mourching” or” Morching”.This instrument is mainly used in the Carnatic musc. The Morsing is an Indian version of the Jew’s harp. It’s also used in folk music.

Little daughters enjoyed the festival while their mothers were singing

Kalasoori Arunthathy Sriranganathan is performing along with her students and fellow musicians

It’s an annual festival by the musicians for the music genius Saint Thyagaraja

Veena performers at the festival

Most of the spectators joined in singing the Gems of Thyagaraja

It’s a festival of enchantment for all music lovers

Veena, Violin, Miruthangam and Morsing players performed with the vocal musicians

The spirit of festivity is shared by all

It’s a rare event to witness and be a part of it, where many musicians gather and perfom together

Related: In 2007: Sri Thyagaraja Aradhana ~ Prince of Renunciation

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Tamil Translation of this article:
கர்நாடக சங்கீத மாமேதை ஸ்ரீ தியாகராஜருக்கு கொழும்பில் இசைவிழா

Email:dushi.pillai@gmail.com

“Mind of the flower is the deed, that honey in the heart is our creed”

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Valentine’s Day, February 14th-Humanity’s day to love, inspire and cherish life. A day to reinforce that everyone “wants the mind of the flower is the deed, that honey in the heart is our creed”
[HumanityAshore Photo stream]



“Who, being loved, is poor? "~Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish Playwright”

Happy Valentine’s Day.

And here are a variety flowers, from many parts of Sri Lanka, speaking the language of love wherever they are, every day:

Purple Lilly in a pond in Waikkal-North Western Province

Temple flowers in water at the entrance of Lake View Hotel in Moratuwa

Multi petal red shoe flower in Stanley road, Jaffna

Pink shoe flower and bud in Uswetakiyawa

Lotus flowers for worshipping at Sri Venkadeswara Maha Vishnu temple in Nedimala-Dehiwala

In Jaffna-Ponnuchi, Flower used in offerings to god, garland making

Flower pond with Neelambari at Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar Devasthanam in Colombo 13

Flower offerings on a full moon day at the Jaya Sri maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura

Pomegranate flower in Puttlam

White lily in Vakarai

This flower is called Sivalingam or Nagalingam in Tamil. It’s believed that the flower looks like a Sivalingam in the middle, while some believe it looks like a Nagalingam (Cobra). It is offered specially for Lord Siva

A variety of shoe flower [Hibiscus rosa-sinensis] in Habarana. This particular shoe flower hangs down from the tree.

Dark Pink single petal shoe flower in Kanagambigaikulam in Kilinochchi

Variety of flowers kept in water at Ranweli Hotel in Waikkal

A bunch of baby roses in St. Clairs

Yellow rose in St.Clairs

Red Rose, in Ramboda
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Pearl-like Jasmine

Mallikai-Jasmine

By Kuzhanthai Kavignar Azha Valliyappa

[Florist near Near Mayurapathi Amman Temple, Wellawatte, Sri Lanka]

Pearl-like Jasmine
Shows all beauty
Always dancing daily
on the heads of lass

Wherever hidden
find it easily
spreading fresh scent
saying am here

Pleasing the eyes
Its scent mixes with wind
while on women’s head
making them proud

Wear it on our heads
we aren’t fortunate
wonder the men in angst
with the jasmine flower

One Language all over the World….By Poet Vaali

One Language all over the World….
Language spoken by hearts in love..
Language spoken without sound..
Language of sphere-less divine….

A bird in varied colors
One lyric many ragas
Nights are alike but seasons differ
Delight is same for the many souls

When separated by sea and sky
Love unites faster than the speed of wind
Souls may be separated into two
But love is just one-named divinity

One sky-one and only moonlight
Years those gone by are in millions
Imparted by love, reciting poetry and delving in arts
The united were in millions

Mass in the millions spoke it yet
Love sprouts swiftly
Be globe trotting, still
Love Google’s to unite

One language all over the world..
Language spoken by hearts in love..
Language spoken without sound..
Language of sphereless divine….- By Kavignar Vaali

[Purple Lily in Waikkal, North-West Province, Sri Lanka]