Mon, 18 Mar, 2019

Mahashivaratri A night with the Divine

This year being the 25th anniversary of the Mahashivaratri celebrations at Isha Yoga Centre, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, lakhs of spiritual seekers attended the mega event, making it the second largest gathering in India after the Maha Kumbh Mela at Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh

10th March 2019, 03:06 Hrs

BHARATI PAWASKAR


It was the 25th year of Mahashivartri celebrations at Isha Yoga Centre this year that witnessed the assimilation of lakhs of people from all corners of the world to attend this grand event. To be here at Isha Ashram, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu on the occasion of Mahashivaratri festival is itself an achievement for the commoners, who wish to walk on the path of spirituality and believing in this, lakhs of seekers including locals, national and international, all throng the ashram. It is an annual mega event, which is not to be missed, especially, by those who wish to witness the mixed crowd that assimilates in front of the 112 ft Adiyogi statue for a nightlong celebration. People also come to participate in the Maha Annadanam that happens throughout the night of Mahashivaratri. 

Mahashivaratri celebrations happen on a grand scale at the Isha Yoga Centre and is free for all to attend and partake in Maha Annadanam on this night of tremendous possibilities. Maha Annadanam is an offering by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, founder of Isha Foundation, who aims to spread the culture of giving selflessly and providing for those who come to the ashram from all corners of the world, to be a part of this powerful event.

Preceding Mahashivartri, there was Yaksha, a three-day festival of culture, music and dance featuring some of the most exuberant and renowned talent of music and dance. Held at the powerfully consecrated space of Isha Yoga Centre at the foothills of sacred Vellingiri Mountains every year prior to Mahashivaratri, this year’s vibrant artistic performances transported listeners to a transcendental realm. The sublime beauty of these art forms attracted thousands of ardent spectators this year too, who sat through the musical evenings in the privileged company of Sadhguru all three days. Endowed with a wholly original, melodious and rich voice Kalapini Komkali presented Hindustani vocal on day one. This widely recognised artist is one of the finest and well-trained classical vocalists of the younger generation. As daughter and disciple of the legendary Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Kalapini has inherited a capacity for technique and creativity. She mesmerised the audience with her divinely performance.

Top class Carnatic classical musicians and sisters Ranjani and Gayatri presented Carnatic vocal on day two. In a domain often characterised as elitist, estoric and not easily accessible to the masses, this brilliant sister duo have found a way over the years to satisfy and stimulate the cognoscenti and at the same time delight and thrill the lay audience. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the presentation. The conservators of their genre’s unique beauty have well preserved the ancient tradition as they both continue to innovate within it. The final day of Yaksha featured a daylong celebration of India’s performing arts.

On March 3, virtuoso performer and a sensitive interpreter of the nuances of the Bharatnatyam dance form, Leela Samsung and Spanda Dance Company presented ‘Nadi – The River’. This recipient of the Sanskriti Award in 1982, the Padma Shri Award in 1990, the Nritya Choodamani Award in 1997, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000 and the Natya Kala Acharya Award from the Music Academy, Chennai in 2015 performs solo as well as travels with the Spanda Dance Company for shows in India and abroad. Then there were performances by Isha Samskriti and Fakira Kheta Khan and Group (Rajasthani folk) too. Along with the cultural programmes, there was a unique ‘Sari Experience’ workshop wherein 108 different styles of draping a sari was conducted by Rta Kapur Chisti, author of ‘Saris: Tradition and Beyond’. The venue also exhibited typical weaves in saris, salwars and dupattas displaying the special styles from different states – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, and Kolkata etc.

After the three-day cultural event followed the Mahashivaratri celebration on the fourth day. Beginning at 6 pm in the evening of March 4 the celebration continued throughout the night and ended in the morning at 6 am with a nightlong performances of music and dance, chanting, midnight meditation and Sathsang with Sadhguru and Maha Annadanam - offering of free food to all those who attended this annual event at the Isha Yoga Centre. The numbers exceeded beyond expectations as the flow of devotees continued throughout the night.

“Last year around three-and-a-half lakh people visited Adiyogi statue for Darshanam and Pradakshina on Mahashivaratri occasion and this year the number was expected to rise, as it was the 25th year of Mahashivaratri celebration at Isha Ashram. But the attendees and visitors, together exceeded to approximately seven lakh people,” shared a spiritual seeker who has been attending regularly for the past eight years.

Every year Maha Annadam is offered during the night-long celebration of Mahashivaratri, to the lakhs of devotees who attend the festival at the Isha Yoga Centre. It is not just an offering of physical nourishment; it is a distribution of Prasadam by the willing hands of volunteers. Many beings down the ages have attained to wonderful states by offering food to everyone. According to Sadhguru, “In our tradition, serving spiritual seekers and monks has always been of utmost importance. This can be a path in itself. The most beautiful expression of this is the Annadanam – the sacred offering of food.”

Pradakshina is the process of circumambulation of a powerful energy source in a clockwise direction to imbibe its energy. The process is especially potent at eleven degrees latitude, where the Isha Yoga Centre is located. “The Pradakshina has been created by Sadhguru for one to become receptive to the grace of Adiyogi, which can fuel one’s striving towards ultimate liberation,” stated an Isha Ashram resident who explained the entire path on which one has to walk during the Pradakshina. This year, a Rudraksh and Sarpasutra (a copper snake ring), was offered to all free.

As the night dawned into the morning, lakhs of seekers who attended walked back with a happy heart, thanking the few thousand volunteers who also had come from across the globe to offer their services willingly. Indeed, an event enriched the lives of those who witnessed it in person!  

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