Friday, February 24, 2017

Maha Shivaratri and Parvati

The Hindu god Shiva with the goddess Parvati,
approx. 600-700 A.D.  India; Bihar state 
My friend Jeannie Herer reminds me that this is Maha Shivarati, the holiday when Nepal relaxes its laws to allow the partaking of the holy ganga.

In some parts of India, rather than just worshipping the Lord Shiva, this day celebrates the day Shiva married the goddess Parvati ("she of the mountain'). By some legends Parvati was as devout as Shiva, but when she saw him she had to marry him, and diligently brought him out of contemplation into the world.

I was told this legend straight from the Himilayas: Shiva was busy frolicking on the mountaintops with various nymphs when Parvati, left alone at home, discovered a cannabis plant growing in her garden. When Shiva returned to her, Parvati put some of the plant into a pipe for him to smoke. He did, and thereafter the two invented tantric yoga and saved their marriage.

Rather like the Adam and Eve story, here it is the woman who discovers the magical plant (which is “forbidden” in the Bible, what Timothy Leary called “the first controlled substance”).

Parvati is the Hindu mother goddess of love, fertility and devotion. Along with Lakshmi (goddess of wealth and prosperity) and Saraswati (goddess of knowledge and learning) she forms the Trinity of Hindu goddesses. "In Hindu temples dedicated to her and Shiva, she is symbolically represented as the argha or yoni. She is found extensively in ancient Indian literature, and her statues and iconography grace Hindu temples all over South Asia and Southeast Asia." [Wikipedia]

In the blackwashing of goddesses as witches, she's come down to us as Kali, the destructor goddess, but her form or incarnation depends on her mood. Sometimes, she is Kamakshi, goddess of love and devotion; at other times Annapurna, the representation of all that is complete (and of food).

Parvati is the mother of Ganesh and is believed to be sister to the Goddess Ganga, the personification of the sacred river Ganges and the term for cannabis leaves and flowers that are smoked. Another interpretation of these ancient myths is that the cannabis plant is another form of Parvati.

Bhang and Ganga are said to reside side by side on Shiva’s head, while he dances on the body of a dwarf who embodies indifference, ignorance and laziness. May we all dance on that dwarf tonight.