With fasts and prayers, Delhi celebrates Shivratri

February 23rd, 2009 - 1:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) Shiva devotees started the day early Monday with a ritual bath and prayers to celebrate Shivratri. Unmarried women fasted on the occasion while praying for a good husband - just like Shiva himself.
“It’s a ritual. On Shivratri we unmarried women observe fasts from dawn to dusk and pray to Lord Shiva to give us a good spouse,” Sanchari Das, who works in an NGO, told IANS.

“We also pour water and a concoction of milk, rose water and honey on the Shivling while offering our prayers, four times in the day,” she added.

Celebrated in honour of Lord Shiva, it is said that on Shivratri - which generally falls on the 13th or 14th day of the month of Phalgun - Shiva got married to Goddess Parvati.

Ashima Dua, a home maker, said after bathing the Shivling, people offer various things - each having its own meaning.

“Every offering made to the Shivling on Shivaratri has its own meaning. Smearing a vermilion paste and offering milk, rose water and honey signifies sanitisation of soul, offering of fruits represent a long life and fulfilment of desires while lighting of a lamp signifies achievement of knowledge,” Dua said.

In the capital, the Sulabh International Social Service Organisation organised a prayer service early Monday in which people offered prayers to 250,000 earthen Shivlings prepared by, amongst others, 100 former manual scavengers.

“The earthen Shivlings have been made by 400 people, which include 100 former untouchable women, who earlier worked as manual scavengers in Rajasthan. We also have 15 Vedic experts performing the puja - which is symbolic in a way that it gives the message that everyone is equal in the eyes of the Lord,” head of Sulabh International Bindeshwar Pathak said.

The Gauri Shankar Charitable Trust also celebrated Shivratri in a different way. They organised weddings of 11 women hailing from economically backward families.

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