March 11th is Shiva Festival day. Hindus in India, Nepal and other countries hold various activities early in the morning to celebrate this important religious festival. A Chinese religious and cultural scholar in India told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao reporter that as one of the most important gods in Hinduism, Shiva enjoys a high status in the global Hindu cultural ethos and has many adherents. In addition, as time has changed, Shiva’s “salience” has greatly increased. Shiva is not only the protagonist of religious activities, but also often “shows his face” in political and technological activities.
Shiva, Brahma and Vishnu are called the three main gods of Hinduism. Every month in the Hindu calendar has “Shiva Night”, but Shiva Festival is generally celebrated on a certain day in the 11th or 12th month of the Hindu calendar (February or March in the Gregorian calendar). It is said that this day is wet, being the “Wedding Anniversary” of the God and his consort, the goddess Parvati in the snowy mountains. According to astrological calculations, this year’s Shiva Festival will start at 2:39 pm on the 11th and end at 3:2 pm on the 12th, local time. In addition to the Shiva Festival in the first half of the year, the festival celebrating Shiva’s birthday in July or August of the Gregorian calendar is also called Shiva Festival.
On Shiva’s Day, believers must observe strict fasts and hold various religious activities to please Lord Shiva, including religious baths. The best bathing place is the Ganges river. During the Shiva festival every year, millions of believers go to the Ganges either on foot or by car. The marching team often stretches for tens of meters or even hundreds of meters. After they arrive at their destination, after taking a dip, they take the Ganges water home and enshrine it to the local Shiva temple in their hometown. It is said that some wealthy businessmen are unable to visit due to “busy duties”, and they will also ask “stand-ins” to complete such “pilgrimages” for them, on their behalf.
According to media reports of the 11th, despite the new corona pneumonia epidemic, there are still tens of thousands of Hindus jumping into the river to take a “holy bath” in some areas of the Ganges.
Hindus make up the vast majority of India’s population. In addition to religious activities, people will also worship Lord Shiva for safety and auspiciousness on some important occasions such as rocket launches and the inauguration of politicians in office. During a tour by the Huan Qiu Shi Bao in Andhra Pradesh in 2019, the reporter was invited to attend the opening ceremony of a local restaurant on the way. After taking off your shoes and entering the house, the first thing is to break open coconuts in the countryside and sprinkle the coconut milk in front of Shiva’s shrine. Although the reporter repeatedly stated that he is an atheist, the shopkeeper still insisted that “this ritual was indispensable” and could enable his business to flourish.