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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > London Local > Redbridge > Spare Time > The Great Night of Lord Shiva

Shiva overlooking devotee Ram

Shiva appearing to his devotee

The Great Night of Lord Shiva

Hindus across the borough are celebrating the birth and wedding anniversary of the popular deity Lord Shiva.

About Hinduism

Hindu's believe in one ultimate being, but unlike other religions they believe this being has a number of incarnations or 'gods.'

The Hindu Holy Trinity is made up of:

Lord Shiva

The destroyer

Lord Vishnu

The preserver

Lord Brahma

The creator

There are a number of popular female gods too, including Vishnu's consort Lakshmi. The Goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Hindus in Redbridge

7.8 % of the population is Hindu in the borough and is not concentrated in specific wards. (Census figures 2001)

Hindu Temples

There are three main Hindu temples in Redbridge

  • Durga Mandir, Norman Road, Ilford
  • The VHP Ilford Hindu Centre, Albert Road, Ilford
  • The Ganesh Temple, Ley Street, Ilford

Mahashivratri is one of the most significant days in the Hindu calendar. Devotees of Lord Shiva keep a fast until midnight which they break with holy songs known as ‘bhajans’  and ‘prashad’ or blessed food.

There are many reasons why Mahashivratri is celebrated. Some believe it was the day Shiva was born and got married. Others believe it was the day he did the ‘Tandav.’ A dramatic dance that destroys all evil. It’s also why he is known as ‘the destroyer’.

Lord Shiva

Shiva is considered a mighty and generous god, always willing to grant the wishes of his devotees. He is also considered the ultimate meditator, often depicted sitting cross legged on the Himalayas deep in contemplation. His hair is long and attire simple to symbolise humility and his detachment to material things.

Fasting

Not all Hindus fast on Mahashivratri but those who do often keep a fruit fast. This allows them to eat any sort of fruit once in 24 hours. They are also expected to stay awake until midnight as the night is supposed to be particulary auspicious for connecting with the divine.

A symbol of Lord Shiva

A Shiv Lingam

The Lingam

Shiva is worshipped by offering water, milk, yoghurt, honey or leaves to his symbol the Lingam. These items are intended to remind Hindu’s of nature and all that it offers. A mixature of milk and water is the most popular offering.

The Lingam is usually a black stone, oval in shape. Again there are a number of interpretations of the Lingam. Most believe it depicts the infinite nature of god. A shape that has no beginning or end and is perfect in form. Controversially some also consider it a phyllic symbol –  symbolic of procreation.

Your thoughts are welcome, email ramaa.sharma@bbc.co.uk

last updated: 28/12/2007 at 14:57
created: 16/02/2007

You are in: London > London Local > Redbridge > Spare Time > The Great Night of Lord Shiva

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