Various Siva temples in the city will be inundated with devotees on Monday for the customary night-long vigil and fasting to be held in connection with the Mahasivarathri celebrations.
The Hindu legend has it that Siva deliberately consumed a terrible poison that would have annihilated the universe and Goddess Parvathy prayed and meditated a full day and night to prevent the venom from destroying her husband.
Hindu believers consider Sivarathri, which usually falls on new moon nights, an auspicious occasion for women to pray for the welfare of their husbands and sons.
Not surprisingly, women and children form a large chunk of devotees who spend the night praying and fasting at Siva temples in the district. Unmarried Hindu women also observe the Sivarathri with piety believing that remaining awake and praying all night would bring them ideal husbands. The festival falls in the Hindu calendar month of Kumbhom.
Walk to temples
Many believers will visit important temples in the city on foot on Monday night. Their journey often ends only on Tuesday dawn.
A large section of believers will in all likelihood spend the night at their homes, watching religious programmes on various television channels. It is usual for several cinema halls in the city to screen old Tamil, Malayalam, and Telugu films based on Hindu myths for devotees looking for ways to keep themselves awake on the auspicious night.
Hub of fete
The Travancore Devaswom Board-managed Sreekanteswaram Temple is the hub of Sivarathri celebrations in the city.
Sreekanteswaram municipal ward councillor Rajendran Nair said the Corporation had cleaned the locality in preparation for the festival. He said scores of voluntary agencies, including resident's associations, will serve ‘ginger coffee' and other refreshments for devotees keeping the vigil on Sivarathri.
On Sunday, the temple was crowded with pilgrims. Most were city residents bound for the famed Mahadevar temple at Thirumalai in Munchirai in Tamil Nadu to participate in the Sivalaya run, a barefoot walk that would cover 125 km and touch 12 ancient Siva temples in Kalkulam taluk in Nagarcoil district within 24 hours. Many opted to visit the temples in flower-decked vehicles sporting saffron flags, instead of walking all the way.
If the hectic preparations for the festival were any indication, Monday night is all set to be a lively one in the city. Temple managements, resident's associations, and religious organisations have arranged night-long classical dance performances, open air screening of films, music concerts, rendering of bhajans, and Kathakali performances to entertain devotees.
The police will deploy in strength to keep the peace on Sivarathri night.
The Kerala State Road Transport Corporation will operate special services touching all important Siva temples in the district.