Before the warm rays of the sun lit up the morning sky, Bangalore’s Old Airport road was teeming with people. Queued up to get a glimpse of their beloved Bholenath, devotees amassed at the walkways on either side of the Kemp Fort Mall. Meanwhile, the temple team and volunteers prepped up the sanctuary within the temple to welcome the longing devotees. The temple soon hosted a mass of 70000 devotees and spiritual seekers who sought to receive Lord Shiva’s blessings on the holy occasion of Maha Shivratri.
Throughout the day, devotees entered the temple to get Darshan of Lord Shiva. This also included officials like Mr. Bhaskar Rao, the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Praveen Sood, the Director General of Police, Mr. Mohan Manghnani, Philanthropist & Chairman of New Horizon Gurukul and Mrs.Umashree, Kannada actress and a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The spiritual vibrations within the temple filled the hearts of every devotee who walked in.
It was on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri in 1995, that the Shivoham Shiva Temple was inaugurated. The temple celebrated its Silver Jubilee year this Shivratri. To commemorate that, the temple color-themed the event with lustrous silver décor and outfits.
Spirit-kindling bhajans were sung all day by various singers who teamed up with AiR, the founder of the temple. Immersed in deep meditation facing the enthralling 65-foot Lord Shiva statue were a few spiritual seekers and elders. Resounding chants of faith, hope, and love for Lord Shiva claimed the air in and around the temple as the devotees performed Shiva Aarti.
From the point of entry to the exit, the event was planned to provide the devotees with a faith-inspiring experience devotees could partake in several spiritual activities that help one connect to God, like the Om Namah Shivaya 108 Yatra, wherein one drops Rudraksha seeds in a series of brass vessels chanting Om Namah Shivaya 108 times. Special poojas were also conducted as devotees performed Milk Abhishek at the Shiv Linga and the Maha Yagna havan.
Other faith-building activities and yatras included the Barah Jyotir Ling Yatra where one could catch a glimpse of the twelve Jyotir Linga Shrines that exist across India. The Panch Dham Yatra brought the Shiva Lingas that are located in Haridwar, Rishikesh, Badrinath, Kedarnath, and Amarnath closer to the believers. It was here, that one could see the likeness of the famous Amarnath Ice Linga.
As the evening drew closer, devotees lit up diyas, adding flair to the existing celebratory feel in the air. The night started off with a play of colorful lights, gripping narrative and soul-stirring music as a laser projected animation on the purpose of life, and how faith must be built and evolved, appeared on the Shiva Statue. It not only captured the attention of the crowd inside the temple, but also the ones to whom it was telecasted to from hundreds of cellphones. This special Maha Shivratri Light and Sound Show was an effort to help believers understand the truth about spirituality and how the temple transformed from the Shiv temple to the Shivoham Shiva temple. The show and other events and celebrations were broadcast live on social media for those who couldn’t make it to the temple.
In front of the altar, was a space set up for the devotees to meditate and to offer their prayers to their beloved Shiva. AiR, an embodied soul who seeks to help people realize the truth, conducted a special Q&A program that encourages investigative thinking and contemplation to better understand Life as we know it. The topics discussed were Life, God, Karma, Death, and Moksha. The Devotees who participated were awarded special prizes.
The book ‘The Ladder to Heaven’, authored by AiR, was given to everyone who visited the temple on the day of Maha Shivratri. The book talks about the 16 steps that are required to attain Moksha – Belief, Prayer, Faith, Hope, Trust, Enthusiasm, Love, Going on a Quest, Silence and Contemplation, Transcending Karma, Guidance of a Guru, Overcoming Ignorance, Realization of the Truth, Winning the war within, Liberation, and ultimately, Unification with God. The book was written to inspire people to go on a quest of faith and seek God within to find the Divine Power. It shows the way to God-realization through Self-Realization, overcoming the ignorance that we live with.
The Shivoham Shiva Temple envisions believers to become seekers and to lead them to the realization of the truth of Shivoham, that God is everywhere and in everything; that everything is a manifestation of the Divine power. The Holy Maha Shivratri that brought us all together at the temple proved to be instrumental in bringing this vision to reality.