February 24th is the annual Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri, meaning Great Night of Shiva. Shiva is one of the triumvirate of Hindu Gods. His role is the destroyer God, responsible for the dissolution of life in order that it may be re-created. The other two Gods in the triumvirate are Brahma (the creator God) and Vishnu (the preserver of life). This festival celebrates the belief of the ever-renewing life-cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution and of overcoming darkness and ignorance in life. If you like, each moment of our lives on Earth is one of continuous life and death cycles: each time we breathe in and out; each thought we have which then fades; each day that begins and ends; each season of growth and decay, and so on. It can bring comfort to many people to view death in this way as part of the unending circle of life.
Maha Shivaratri is a solemn night vigil festival of fasting and making offerings to the God Shiva. It’s a time to look within and see what evil needs to be eradicated and which virtues need to be encouraged. I could certainly benefit from this practice and will be meditating strongly on handing over my bad habits to God and making resolute efforts to replace these with positive acts of kindness. Blessings to all but especially to our Hindu friends at this special time!