Transformer god praised in Stratford celebrations
- Credit: Archant
Hindus praised Lord Shiva in a 15-hour festival to thank him for acting as their protector.
The Maha Shivaratri celebrations at Radha Krishna Temple in Cedars Road, Stratford, honoured the god, who joins Vishnu and Brahma as one of Hinduism’s three major deities, with dancing, singing and prayer from 6am to 9pm on Monday.
Sudarshan Kapur, 76, organised the temple’s celebrations and said Maha Shivaratri, the date of which varies each year, is always a happy time for Hindus.
“There’s a lot of singing and dancing and people always get dressed up in very colourful clothes,” she said. “We all love Shiva and this is how we celebrate him as our protector and creator – he’s everything.”
Sudarshan, who moved to London from New Delhi in India in 1964, was the lead singer in musical celebrations of Shiva from 7pm to the festival’s end at 9pm.
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“This is how we worship him,” she said. “We give our praise and offerings to Lord Shiva and we also celebrate his wedding [to Parvati].”
“This is a big Hindu festival that happens all over the world.”
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As is customary in Hinduism, milk and honey were consumed to mark Maha Shivaratri, which is believed to be the day that Shiva save the universe by drinking haalaahala, a poison from the ocean.
Hindu tradition holds that the god married goddess Parvati on the same day, with the pair going on to have two children – Ganesha and Kartikeya.
The festival is the most popular among the Hindu diaspora from the state of Bihar, which is in North-East India.
It is also celebrated in more than 400 temples in the West Indies, where Hindus are known to spend the night in temples praising Shiva, who is the god of yoga and the arts and is also known as The Transformer.
As well as co-ordinating Monday’s celebrations, Barking Road-based Sudarshan works to promote religious events throughout Newham at gurdwaras and mosques.
“I want to join everyone and go wherever I want to go,” she said. “I’m with everybody.”