KARACHI: The moonless night, just a day before the appearance of a new moon, saw Hindu devotees in the city head for the temples to celebrate Maha Shivratri here on Sunday.
Due to its location so near the beach, the historic Shree Ratneshwar Mahadev Temple in Clifton was the ideal spot for celebrating Shivratri, also known as ‘night of Shiva’. This occasion celebrating Lord Shiva’s marriage to Parvati Devi has the women preparing a pooja thali for themselves with flowers, coconut, rice, incense sticks and a diya to take to the beach where they walk barefoot just before sunrise.
Dressed in beautiful sarees and adorned with jewellery, the women, who are also fasting, pray for a happy married life with their husbands while the ones still unmarried hope for a handsome and caring life partner. “The men fast, too,” said temple Maharaj Ravi Ramesh, “because the fast is mandatory on all of us.”
But one woman wearing a pretty midnight blue sari with silver embroidery said that her daughter was fasting, not her.
“I have been fasting for so many years. I’m tired, quite frankly. It’s her turn to fast now,” she laughed, gesturing to her daughter.
“Well, as I said the fasting may be compulsory, it also depends on the physical capability of each individual,” the Maharaj said.
The sound of drums and the blowing of the traditional shankh, or the conch shell, made everyone turn to the entrance. A group of young devotees holding orange banners and decorated clay pots, carrying water from the Ganges approached the lowest level of the temple. “They have come here all the way from Chanesar Goth. We have been expecting them. We will bathe Shiva with the holy water,” said the Maharaj before excusing himself to make preparations.
The pooja was to continue till 5am, followed by aarti and then a walk to the sea after which the devotees were free to break their fast and enjoy the feast being prepared for them in the temple kitchen all night long.
Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2016