Maha Shivaratri: The Night of Shiva

The celebration of Shivaratri in honor of Shiva is held at the beginning of the spring season, in many of the Indian cities. Shiva is known for destruction in the Indian mythology. However, he was not mentioned in the Vedas. Hence the question of finding his identity in Vedic literature is scientifically controversial. As per archaic myth, his consort is Parvati. He is represented by four children Ganesha, a half man and half elephant being, Saraswati, patron of knowledge, Lakshmi, patron of wealth and Kartikeya, patron of fertility and war.

Shiva shares several features with Rudra. In the post-Vedic period, the use of the epithet came to overcome the original theorem. The name of Rudra was taken as synonymous with Shiva. Since then both names are used interchangeably. Rudra did what is outside the norm, who did not act and live like everyone else. He was wild, untamed and dangerous. So later, Rudra loses much influence to almost disappear completely in favor of the newcomer Shiva.

Shiva's symbol was the trident. The animals sacred to him were the bull and the snake. Similar deities to Shiva were Priapus and Poseidon of the ancient world, Rodon in Illyrian religion and Nethuns in Etruscan religion. His corresponding Roman was Neptune. Shaivism is a religion born in human prehistory. Its origin is so ancient as to make us think that it can be scattered anywhere in the world as one of the main sources of the later religions.

Shaivism is a religion that is inspired by nature. It has found a fertile ground of expression and preservation in India. Although there is no evidence that its birthplace was the current India because we see the rituals and symbols appear almost simultaneously in various parts of the world.

In Slavic mythology, Živa, pronounced as Siva, Siwa, Żiwia, Sieba or Razvia, was the love goddess of fertility. It is often represented as a young woman with long hair. The mate of Sieba was Siebog, her male equivalent. Along with Rod, the oldest deity of the Slavic pantheon, the personification of destiny and fate, as a divine couple often symbolized by a dove. In Russia is celebrated, the day of Zivin (Živa is abbreviated form of the name Zhivana). In Norse mythology, there is an almost identical deity called the goddess Sif. From the name and the history of these two goddesses, you can see that both were probably the same deity.

Svjatogor is a Russian mythological hero, a Bogatyr. His exploits are recounted in the Byliny. Here he is always depicted as a tired and sad knight. He is very old and nostalgic about his past glory. His name comes from the expression of sacred mountains.

Sometimes, he is symbolized also doing his dance of destruction called Tandava. Evidently, the cult of Shiva was born earlier and independently of what would become his kingdom. He is often represented with snakes, holding his trident. Shiva is worshiped as the main deity in many cities and is considered second only to Vishnu. Temples dedicated to Shiva are widespread throughout India.

Shivaratri is the day when Shiva and Parvati were married. So this festival is a celebration of their divine union. Shiva also performed on this night the Tandava or the dance. More likely, his hypomorphs performances served to highlight the strange and superhuman strength he controlled.

In this festival, the married women pray for luck and longevity of their husbands. The unmarried girls pray to have a good husband. The phallic symbol of Shiva, called Lingam, is washed with cow urine, dung, milk, butter and sour milk.

Disciples prepare bhang, the favorite food of Shiva. This preparation is obtained from the leaves and flowers of cannabis.

Perhaps the best-known myth is about Kamadeva. On a perennial spring, flowers bloomed, and the bees were buzzing among the flowers. Cuckoos sang and a fragrant breeze began to float in the forest. Kamadeva was annihilated in the hands of Shiva, who resolved to help the maid Parvati to gain the love of Shiva. Although it was only an instant, Siva was enraged. He burned Kamadeva to ashes and later the qualities of Kama was taken over by Shiva. So the truth is that Kamadeva is much earlier than Hinduism.

Shiva is associated with many similar epithets which are all elements of the description of his function or perception that he induces. Sometimes the fear of vindictive God preferred the epithet in its very name, but always with devotion and reverence. The use of such parables delights the poets who diversify to have a bivalent literary tool in one or two words often, marked by a deliberately kept pace, where sense devolved designates both the God as well as the faculty that the author wants to give it.

Some epithets are linked to local cults or are more or less historical. Others were disseminated by the works and are common myths throughout India, advancing broader divine traits that are mostly fantasy. Epithets of Shiva draw him as a paternalistic God. Shiva's first love was Sati. Through his unusual lifestyle as an ascetic, he came into conflict with Sati's father Daksha. Sati was hurt in her father's disapproval and committed suicide by burning herself alive.

Later Parvati, also called Uma, the daughter of King Hima of the Himalayan Kingdom and apsara Menaka became the consort of Shiva for the rest of their lives. The nature of Vishnu and Shiva is often the subject of debate. Among the Shiva and Vishnu devotees repeatedly flare up discussions on who is more powerful. There are plenty of arguments for both positions.

The Samudra Manthan is one of the fundamental episodes where the devas and asuras fought among themselves for taking control of the Soma or Amrita, the magical drink and the nectar of immortality and power. Although the Asuras were the victors, Shiva drank the Kalakuta or Jala-Jala, a virulent poison that made a blue mark on his throat and he was called Nila Kantha.



Shiva is represented by the linga or even lingam. It is an enormous phallus in perpetual erection in phallic position. Although most of the sculpted idols or murtis are anthropomorphic, the aniconic Shiva lingam is an important exception. Some believe that the cult of lingam was a feature of the ancient cultures of India. The lingam also represents the stambha or pillar. Tantra and Puraṇa describe it as a phallic symbol representing the regenerative aspect of the material universe.

In pagan religions, the phallus was the symbol of the cosmogony of the male member in erection. It was dedicated to prayers and rituals. For centuries it has been the subject of power, taboos, and mystery. A phallus in siltstone dating back to approximately 28,000 years ago was discovered in a cave in southern Germany. It is still one of the oldest phallic representations.

In ancient times many traces of worship of the phallus can be found with the obelisks in Egypt, the monuments of Delos, the phallic construction of Persia and Phenicia, towers of Ireland and Scotland, the monoliths of France and Corsica, the stones planted in Cuzco or in the Indies, some buildings of Polynesians and Japanese, some Macedonian coins, Etruscan tombs, the Dolmen in Great Britain, Sardinia, Malta and Spain, agricultural memorials in Italy, Albania and Greece as well as testimonies about the orgiastic religion of Dionysus and bacchanalia.

Dionysism also represents a stage in which man is in communion with the wildlife, with the beasts of the mountain and the forest.

The paintings of the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii give us an idea of the rituals. The cult of the phallus worship is common to many peoples of antiquity, as well as with the people of the Indus valley civilization. The phallus played a major role in the worship of Dionysus in Greece, and Osiris in Egypt. It was common among the people of Celtic Europe, Knossos, Thebes, and Malta. A phallic symbolism was even found in the megaliths in Brittany, Corsica, and England.

According to ancient Egyptian religion, when the body of Osiris was cut into 14 pieces by Seth, they were scattered all over the country. His wife Isis had to go and retrieve them one by one. She, however, did not find her husband's penis.

Min was often depicted as ithyphallic with an erect penis. During Dionysian festivals held in Alexandria, Egypt, a 60 meters long golden phallus topped with a gold star was carried in procession through the city, in front of half a million people who sang hymns in his honor. The Assyrians and Phoenicians worshiped the god Kmul, a deity with an enormous member, who was a powerful generator of life.

In the tradition deriving from the Greek mythology, Hermes was considered a phallic deity by association with representations that are made on Herms, the large phallic pillars. The son of the same God was the half-goat, Pan, who was often depicted as having an exaggerated erect phallus.

Priapus is a Greek god of fertility whose symbol is a large erect phallus. The son of Aphrodite and Dionysus or Adonis, depending on the different versions of the original myth, is the protector of cattle, the fruit trees, and gardens, as well as the male genitals. Priapus, born perhaps of the Black Sea, moved first to Greece and then to Rome. Here he mingled with the local god Mutinus Tutunus and sometimes even with Pan. In Rome, where he took on the appearance of a satyr, they celebrated Lupercalia in his honor.

The Greeks celebrated the phallic processions in which enormous phalluses were transported during rituals to increase agricultural yields.

In Roman art, the phallus was often depicted in frescoes and mosaics. It was generally placed at the entrance of houses and patrician houses. The erect penis was in fact considered an amulet against the evil eye and envy. In addition, the worship of the erect male member, in ancient Rome was widespread among the matrons. For this, the phallus was also used as a necklace around the neck or arm. Also in Rome, noble virgins before marriage, made a special prayer to Priapus.

Omnipresent in the Roman culture, the ruins of ancient Pompeii brought to light the Tintinnabulum. It was a kind of rattle operated by the wind and composed of bells. It was tied to a single structure on the characteristic phallic forms. They were used to ward off malevolent influences and the statues of Priapus guarded the private gardens of the villas.

Children and teenagers brought with them the bulla, a phallic amulet worn as a medallion signifying the coming of age. The phallic deity Mutunus Tutunus presided at marital sex. A sacred phallus was among the objects of vital importance for the safety of the Roman state. It was jealously guarded by the Vestal Virgins.

The Greek town of Tyrnavos held an annual procession or phallic parade, a traditional event that takes place during the first days of Lent. Worship by Indian cults of phallic-like stones dates back to prehistoric times.

Stone shapes with different varieties of heads or stylized glands are found in many ancient temples like the famous lingam kept in the temple of Parashurameshwar in Chittoor district in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Better known as Gudimallam Linga, it is about one and a half meter high. It is carved in a granite polished black stone. Dating back to 2300 BC, it is one of the linga of the existing pre-Buddhist period.

Over the centuries Shivalingam has become increasingly stylized and oval, compared to those prior to the sixth century which show a greater propensity to a naturalistic style. Linguistic evidence indicates that the post-Vedic Aryans not only adopted the cultic tradition of the linga from pre-Vedic people but also the term itself.

On the basis of the apparent phonetic closeness of the words linga and Langula, it is not difficult to recognize even the semantic evolution in langul or plow, that was used as a tool to cultivate the land and fertilize. Lingam stones were found in different sites of the Indus civilization. It ranges in size from those giant three meters in length to very small pieces.

These can be of soapstone, sandstone or baked clay. Some are unmistakable in their naturalistic interpretation. The phallic cult spread throughout the Indian subcontinent from the Chalcolithic period. It became immediately associated with the religious ritual magic of that time.

The phallus is commonly depicted in the paintings in Bhutan. It is used to scare and chase away the bad. The Mara Kannon sanctuary in Nagato in the prefecture of Yamaguchi. It is one of the many shrines of fertility present in Japan. The worship of the phallus was historically widespread. It is present in the festival of Danjiri Matsuri in Kishiwada in Kanamara Matsuri, the Shinto festival in Kawasaki and the Honen Matsuri in Komari.

The god of Norse mythology Freyr was a phallic deity representing male fertility and sexual love. The story of Völsa þáttr narrated in Flateyjarbók, part of the Heimskringla of the ninth century describes a Norwegian family who loved the penis of a horse. Some stone sculptural figures, such as the Stele of Stora Hammar and Tängelgårda stone were a phallic shape. In Reykjavik, there is the Icelandic Phallological Museum dedicated to the artistic representations of the male sex.

Kuker is the deity who personifies fertility and sometimes takes on multiple personalities. In Bulgaria, a spring ritual carnival of Kukeri tradition takes place after the staging of a play. The role of Kuker is interpreted by a robed man who like a little goat wear a horned mask and is girdled at the waist with a large wooden phallus.

During the ceremony, various physiological acts are interpreted, including sexual intercourse in his capacity as a symbol of the sacred marriage of the god. The symbolic wife who appears in a state of pregnancy mimics the pain of childbirth. This ritual inaugurating the work of the field with plowing and sowing is performed with the participation of many allegorical characters, including the emperor and his entourage.

The figures of Kokopelli and Itzamna among the pre-Columbian civilizations often include phallic content. In addition, more than 40 large monolithic sculptures (Xkeptunich) have been documented in Maya sites. The majority of the examples were in the Puuc and the Yucatan region. Uxmal has the largest collection of cultures, with 11. A sculpture measures 320 cm in height, with a base diameter of 44 cm, was recovered in Almuchil.

Different traditions indicate that there are in India about seven to twelve important natural Jyotirlingas. In each of this a shaped of natural Lingam stands. The best known is those of Somnath in Gujarat, Mahakala in Ujjain and Shiva or Visweswara in Benares, Amarnath in Himalaya, where it forms a pillar of ice and disappears again.

Every winter the water leaking on the floor of a cave freezes like a stalagmite that looks like a Lingam and is the subject of pilgrimage during the Amarnath Yatra. In the late nineteenth century, in India, it was estimated that there were over 30 million Lingas.

In Japan, where many Hindu deities are worshiped by the relationship that these two nations maintained, Shiva is known as Shiba and Daikoku, meaning black. As he is covered by ashes of cremated corpses he is called Kala or Kali.

It should be noted that many gods were known by different names even in the same language, as it was felt that calling them by the real name procure bad luck. It was therefore used a large number of circumlocutions or adjectives describing the qualities. Over time these epithets assumed an independent role and were to approach the principal names.

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