Yagna and Maha Shivaratri Celebration in Jo’burg (20-23 February 2009)

The Chinmaya Mission of Johannesburg held a grand and extraordinary 4 day function to celebrate Mahashivarati, under the able guidance of Swami Abhedananda, the Acharya-in-charge of Chinmaya Mission South Africa. Organized by devoted coordinators, Shri Ishwar Beesunlal and Smt Nisha Beesunlal along with their youthful and enthusiastic team, the celebrations over 4 days witnessed daily talks by Pujya Swamiji on Sri Ramcharitmanas. In addition, the celebrations on the Maha Shivratri evening included a Shiva Sahasra nama archana, Rudra abhishekam and recital of devotional songs all of which started at 6 pm and concluded at 4.30am next morning.

The Yagna commenced from 20th February evening with an inauguration by Sri R.K. Bhatia, the Indian High Commissioner to South Africa. Swami Abhedanandaji, who came especially from Durban, gave enlightening discourses on the ‘Joy of Living Wisely’, which were based on Tulsidasji’s Ramacharitramanas. Swamiji enthralled the audience by dexterously applying the Sati-Shiva story to living a happy, successful and fulfilling life.

The evening of Maha Shivratri day, the Monday 23rd February 2009 was welcomed with Bhajans. This was followed by Swamiji’s concluding discourse on Shiv katha, which culminated in the auspicious marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. In spite of the inclement weather, the event was a big accomplishment, with up to 400 devotees attending the event. After the conclusion of Swamiji’s talk, devotees offered Guru Dakshina and sought blessings from Pujya Swamiji. Prasad in the form of milk and fruits was served to the devotees.

The main Shivaratri celebration which went on from 6 in the evening to 4.30 in the morning, was supported by Zee TV & Lotus FM (national radio station). The radio station had broadcast live from the function. This generated a lot of interest among people about the activities of the Mission. Snippets of Pujya Swamiji’s talk and the bhajans rendered were aired on a South Africa country-wide Lotus FM channel. Soon after the Bhajans, Swami Abhedananda was invited for a short interview by the radio channel, Lotus FM. The interview was aired live whilst the devotees paid attention to Swamiji’s words.

A special Hindustani Classical devotional recital by Smt. Monali Shome and her troupe followed. The melodious devotional songs mesmerized the devotees for the next one hour. At 11:30 pm, under the guidance of Pujya Swamiji, the devotees performed the Shiv Sahasranama archana. The devotees offered flowers whilst chanting 1008 names of Lord Shiva. Swamiji performed the archana with 1008 ‘Bel’ leaves which he offered to the Shiv Lingam on the dias.

Soon after the Shiv Sahasranama archana, right at midnight, Swamiji started performed the Rudra abhishekam. While continuously chanting the Rudram-Chamakam, Swamiji offered 11 different items to the Shiva lingam including Milk, Honey, Curd, Sugar, Ghee, Rose water, Ganga jal, Sandal paste, Til Oil, Rice powder and Amla powder. The Rudra abhishekam was culminated by offering the naivedyam and aarti.

The abhishek concluded at 1:30 am in the morning after which Swamiji and the devotees rendered devotional bhajans and also chanted Lingastakam. The chanting continued for eleven times until 03:00 am. During this pooja most devotees were thunderstruck with the communication that Swami Abhedanandaji held with the Shivaling. An absolutely divine and calm atmosphere prevailed during and after the pooja. Swamiji’s humility was witnessed when he requested each of the devotees to offer milk and water to the Shiva lingam. This grand pooja with 11 times Rudra Abhishek during the 4 prahars of night marked the conclusion of the 4-day celebrations. Swamiji performed a Maha Aarti in the early morning hours of 4:30am.

The Chinmaya Mission Shivaratri celebration was the first of its kind in Johannesburg. By Pujya Gurudev’s grace and Swamiji’s presence, it is marked as a successful event, to be organized year after year. The supporting organizations namely, Lotus FM, The Gatekeeper (advertising agency) and Natural Getaways (Bed and Breakfast) were very co-operative and contributed in a big way to the success of the function.

Swamiji also held a brief but instructive and helpful ‘Question and Answer’ session at the home of Kavita Babsheth with members of the Gita Study Group and their families. The Mission members of Johannesburg felt very fulfilled with Swamiji’s visit to their city and look forward to having more of satsangs and activites in future.

Categories: Special Events