Shiv Ratri celebrations in Jammu J&K

Festival of Shiv Ratri has lot of significance in Hinduism. In accordance with sacred scriptures, ritual worship of Lord Shiva on Shiv Ratri festival, which generally falls on 14th day of dark fort night (Chaudash) during the month of Phagun or Phalgun pleases the Lord Shiva, the most. This fact has been narrated by Lord Shiva, when his consort, the Goddess Parvati, asked from him as to which ritual performed by his devotees makes him happy the most. Shiv Ratri festival is also considered to be an extremely significant festival for the women. Both married and unmarried women observe fast and perform worship of Lord Shiva with sincerity to appease the Goddess Parvati who is also regarded as Mata Gauran. Unmarried women pray for a good husband Like Lord Shiva who has been regarded as an ideal husband. Legend Legend holds that Shiv Ratri festival is celebrated as a sacred occasion, when Lord Shiva is married to his consort, the Goddess Parvati. Celebration of Shiv Ratri in Jammu Shiv Ratri celebrations by

one and all in Jammu and Kashmir symbolize unique age old tradition of pluristic ethos and mutual coexistence of the people in strengthening bonds of love and brotherhood between various sections of the society. Festivities of Shiv Ratri in the state have crossed all barriers of religion, caste and creed. It is because everybody joins in the celebration which symbolizes the real message of spirituality and universal brotherhood. In Jammu city, Shiv Ratri is celebrated with great pomp and show, and enthusiasm. A large number of devotees of Lord Shiva since early in the morning pay a visit to the historical Pir Kho temple situated on the bank of the river Tawi in the mounts of Siwaliks. Pilgrims also visit Ranbireshwar temple in the heart of city. A large crowds of people throng since very early in the morning visit PanchBaktar temple, Shiv Dham at canal road, Shiv Parvati temple on Tawi bridge and Aap Shambu temple at Roop Nagar. All these city temples wore a festive look as they are well decorated for this occasion. The enthusiasm among the devotees is worth appreciation even on the intense shivering cold and or heavy rains. During the whole of  day, the devotees pay their obeisance before Lord

SHiva and often offer milk and performed Jal Abbishek by chanting mantras. The devotees also observe fast and chant mantras since the break of dawn. There are four worships, which starts at about 4 PM on Shiv Ratri day and ends at 4 AM on the next day. In each worship, the milk, curd, honey and sugar are offered to Lord Shiva’s Lingum. This is known as ‘’Nirohar Fast’’ i.e., even water is not taken on the whole day by the devotee, which is taken only after performing,

the last worship. Bhandaras are always organised by the members of the civil society (organisation) around the temples for smooth and incident free celebrations. Meanwhile special buses are also arranged for the devotees interested to visit Parmandal and Devika and Akhnoor Shiv temples. Special buses are  run for the pilgrims to visit Shiv Khori cave shrine situated in mountainous of Reasi belt of the state as well as that of Sudh Maha Dev-Mantali shrine in

Udhampur. In Kashmir, Shiv Ratri is also called Hayrath, it is the biggest festival of Kashmiri Pandits. In ancient time, the festival was  celebrated for 15 days but now it is celebrated in a somewhat muted way for about 3 days. Shiv Ratri in Kashmir is held in a very distinctive way. Two pots (called Kalash), depicting Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati  are filled with walnuts soaked in water. These walnuts are taken out only on the third day which falls on Amavasya. On the third day this walnut is distributed to all friends, relatives and neighbours and there is the real feasting on Chaudash when the families invite each other for dinner Shrinking of Kul Purohits Previously, especially during Shiv Ratri festival, Jangams were a common sight in Jammu region till about a decade ago. Brass coloured flowers behind their ears and peacock feathers in their headgears give a distinct identity to the Jangams, who have

remained very popular for their uniquely rhythmic recitation of Lord Shiv Katha in Shiv temples and in the houses of Hindus during Maha Shiv Ratri day. But these days only a very few of them are seen in the electronic driven world owing to the ongoing fast – paced modernisation. Jangams are now a shrinking tribe, particularly in North India. The younger members of Jangams community are opting for more lucrative jobs.More and more Jangams are changing their profession and lifestyle. A large number of them have now become doctors. Some have adopted a profession of lawyers and are now good advocates. The new generation just compares them with beggars, which they are not. Infact, the prestige or self esteem of the community is at stake. The social stigma has led to shrinking of the population of practising Jangams by about 50 percent during the past 2 decades. It is worth mentioning, the distinctly colourful and legendary tribe of Shiv Jangams wandering religious mendicants and Kul Purohits of Lord Shiva is fast shrinking.

Prof (DR) R.D.Gupta
(The author is Associate Dean Cum Chief Scientist, KVK SKUAST, Chatha, Jammu.)

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