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Maha Shivarathri - a time for fighting

Shiva performing the Tandava
Shiva is portrayed as a transsexual.
Shiva is both male and female,
though sometimes separated.
Maha Shivarathri occurs on the month just before the Spring (next month is the equinox).  It is a day for understanding ethics, and the logic of conscience, through Yoga. This is the day that Shiva performed the self-sacrifice of drinking Halahala (literally, "plowing, furrowing," "plow-plow" - a plow being also a slang for a type of weapon, and the use of that weapon - as in the English, to plow into someone.  It also connotes a fight, a disagreement, a highly intoxicating liquid similar to the English slang for getting drunk, "to get plowed."  It also connotes the a deformity or obstruction to overcome, an ugliness requiring the help of a beautician.  This is the poison that resulted during the churning of the universal milk).  It is also the day when Shiva performed the Tandava dance (the dance of simultaneously creating, sustaining and destroying).  This was the day of Shiva's love and multiple weddings to his wife's several Avatars - and the same day marks other great events for Shiva, as well.

The purpose of tying all events to one day is to build continuity in Time and Space, sanctifying the moment in an act of simultaneous Vaishnavism and Brahmanism: these events remembered, too, indicate unity between the three: it was by becoming a Vaishnava that Shiva overcame Yama in his dance, and by becoming a Brahman that he won the love of his wife, etc.

There are minor Shivarathris (Maha means great or major). These are recognized monthly, at the mid-month night of each lunar month. These serve as echoes of the Maha Shivarathri. There are also even more minor Shivarathris, recognized nightly, when work is done.  Just as the harvest of the last year is utterly exhausted by spring, requiring new work, new plowing. 

Devotees of Shiva will mark these times by combining the practices of Vaishnavaism and Brahmanism through Yoga. Just as devotees of Vishnu and Brahma will undertake their own celebrations of Shiva. Some devotees will practice fasting, even daily after the mid-day meal. Or simply on the mid-month night. Or on the annual Maha Shivarathri. The night is also marked by meditation on ethics and the study of logic, the practice of social harmony, acts of love and friendship (especially to spouses), and of course celebrations of Shiva appropriate to the sect of the particular Devotee, their Ashram practices, and other personal factors.  It is a time to use up, to destroy, to give up all that has past, for something new.

But also special to the nighttime, and especially the mid-month night, and the annual night, is the storytelling. Remembering the existences and non-existences of Shiva, those who have been and remain dear to Shiva - and our own existences, and those of whom have been or remain dear to us. As we would recount our day to our family.  It is a time to remember opponents, past, present and future - our victories and defeats - and to rejoice in the opportunity of fighting. To remember our greatest opponent of all is ourselves. Yet it is not merely an introspective exercise, but an extroverted expression of love and friendship, even in enmity.

Can you take joy in your fighting?  In the honor won, even in defeat?  If you can love yourself despite your faults, your defeats, if you can love your spouse and family and friends despite their faults, despite their defeats, can you not also love your opponent even as you overcome them? Do not hesitate a moment to do your duty, to do what is right - regardless of the pain or pleasure which will result.  Then you will earn honor.  This is a good day for fighting.  And before beginning any opposition, or striving, it is good to practice Shivarathri: an analysis of ethics.