Not everyone believes that sins can be diminished or removed, but those who do consider Shivaratri a night of redemption.
Maha Shivratri (the ‘Great Night of Shiva’) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is also known as padmarajaeathri. The night of Siwa, is always celebrated on the day before Tilem Sasih Kepitu, the new moon of the 7th month of the Saka Moon calendar of Bali, a day which usually falls in the month of January. It is also known as Panglong sasih kapitu or Eve of the New Moon. This night is believed to be the darkest of all nights in the whole year. It is a time for introspection and meditation during which the Hindus of Bali pray for forgiveness of their earthly sins and for support and strength from Siwa in order to reach their higher selves.
I found this whole celebration of the moon an interesting topic. From my perspective the light is associated with all good things and darkness has a sort of bad rap as being a time when evil comes to the fore. Just think of Michael Jacksons thriller video and the perception of those creepy creatures emerging comes to mind. So I found this article by Anand Krishna really interesting: (click here for full article)
“It is common – and quite normal – to celebrate light. God is likened to light. God is conceived as the Lucent and the Luminous, the Radiant and the Resplendent One. Darkness, on the other hand, has always been associated with devil, with negative power.
Not so with the Balinese, and the ancients around the archipelago.
Darkness, for those who still adhere to the beliefs of their ancestors, is as important as light. The two are complementary. Light is known because of the darkness. Without darkness as its counterpart, we would never know light.”
Balinese Hindus carry out the ritual in groups. Students celebrate the night at their schools. Meanwhile, adults generally celebrate at temples or in their own households. Villagers, in coordination from their banjar communal groups, usually head off to the village temples
Siwaratri ceremonies and activities
Starting at the Kawiten (the family’s house temple), prayers and offerings are performed. This is the preliminary ceremony and should be finished by daybreak. It then then followed by;
- Monabrata – silence, not speaking for a period of 12 hours
Silence is a method to learn one should never speak impulsively but instead to carefully weigh one’s words before reacting to one’s experiences in life, to always speak fair and honest words, to never lie, slander, speak evil or swear.
- Upawasa – fasting, not eating or drinking during 24 hours
(Fasting is a method to reach self-control in respect with not to be selfish and greedy.)
- Mejagra – meditation, not sleeping during 36 hours.
Not sleeping, staying awake, is a method to learn to be always ‘awake’, meaning aware of one’s approach of physical life, which should be done with a conduct of insight and wisdom.
Each of the above are methods to learn to be self-conscious at all times, to have self control in all circumstances. As each of them are finished with prayers and offerings at the house temple.
The spiritual symbolism of the Siwaratri ceremonies
The ceremonies and activities of Siwaratri day should remind people to always be spiritually conscious while facing the ups and downs of physical life, to always be aware of the fact one is an incarnated soul. Personally how could a night of silent contemplation and self introspection as well as fasting not enlighten us to our own weaknesses in our physical being and hopefully give us a renewed strength to not continue on the same damaging paths we travel.