Maha Sivaratri Experience
By: Lambodara Das

This is an e-mail which was submitted to the Om Ganesh Group at Yahoo on Wednesday, March 13, 2002. Recopied here with permission from author.
Shiva Lingam
Shiva Lingam at Elephanta Caves, off Bombay coast.
Namaste All,

Last night ( Tuesday 3-12 ) I attended Maha Shivarathri at my local temple (Malibu Temple) I arrived after work at ten pm in time for the end of the 1st Kaala Puja which began 4:30pm. There were about 250 people present including a nice showing of non-Indians westeners like myself. As folks socialized and took prasadam (I was fasting), we were treated to a very fine performance by a trio made up of voice, violin and drum. They played a long set and the young woman on the drum was very good. Next came the dancers 12 of them a mixed age group of young and older woman, including a older white woman who danced as well as her companions.

Midnight began the 2nd Kaala Puja, Rudra Abhishekam, Alankaaram. Archana Aaarathi, Prasadam. A group of devotees chanted Sri Rudram Namakam and Chamakam as Shastri the priest/pujari bathed the large black granite Lingam with milk,honey yogurt etc., rubbed the Lingam with red sandal wood past.
Shastri made offerings of incense, 3 lamps and fruit the Lingam was then rinsed with water, then shine curtains were closed and we sang bhajans and chanted mantras. When the curtain was opened the Lingam is now beautifully decorated with clothes and flower garlands. Shastri now chants the mantras as he places flowers on and about the Lingam. Then prasadam was distributed.

By the time the 3rd Kaala Puja begins at 2:30am the crowd has thined to 25 people 5 of whom are non-Indian westeners like myself. To keep awake we chant, do japa, talk with the assisting priests and Ben a Joytish expert gives consultations using a program on his "Palm Pilot"! At 4:30am our little group moves closer to the shrine for the final Kaala Puja when it seems that there is no milk for the Abhishekam a elderly white woman go to her car and returns with milk and flowers that she has held back just for this moment. Now there are broad smiles among the priests and devotees and the Puja begins.

I enjoy and am inspired by Maha Shivarathri to see and hear people of all caste, color, race and creed come together to take part in this ancient ritual of worship and connection with the All Prevading Divine gives me hope and encouagement in these times of war and hate and violence. Having broke our fast our bellies fill with prasadam and groggy with lack sleep my friend Bob drove us home chanting to Sri Ganesha for guidence and protection as we went and so we arrived safe.
Shiva and Ganesha
This is a representation with both 'forms' of
Lord Shiva. His 'human' representation is the
prevading blue face in the background, while
the black lingam in the forefront, is his pure
energy form (also considered his 'formless'
form). The elephant-headed human form is
Shiva's son Lord Ganesha.
Oh! here is a little thing that I almost forgot during the early part of the evening I noticed a familier looking young white man, thinking that it was someone I'd met before I shook his hand and introduced my self...He introduced him self as Robert it was than that I recognized him as the film/tv actor Robert Downey Jr.

Well I will end here and wish everyone Peace and Love, and welcome to all the new members. May the Blessings of Sri Ganesha be with us all.

Shiva Lingam
Ganesha Idol in Malibu Temple.
Lambodara's description of the Temple:

The Malibu Temple is indeed South Indian style. the garbagriha of the presiding deity Sri Venkateswara (Balaji) sits in the middle of the broad upper plaza facing east. to the rear of Balaji also facing east are the garbagriha of Maha Lakshmi (south/west corner) and Sri Andal (north/west corner). Facing west and Balaji is the garbagriha of Sri Radha Krishna (north/east corner) and Sri Ram Dabar (south/east corner) these garbagriha are out of doors. on the lower level are the garbagriha of Sri Ganesha, Lord Shiva, and Subramunya. at one time these also were out of doors but are now enclosed in the "Shiva Complex". Puja here proceeds amid the ongoing constuction. I hope you have the opportunity someday to vist this very beautiful temple.

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Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha    Om Venkataswara Namah