Human Flower Project
Friday, February 27, 2009
Great Night of Shiva
Though the great Lord Shiva asked only for fasting and a simple bael leaf offering, today’s pilgrims come with milk, herb, and thousands of flowers.
A vendor handles a garland of calotropis pods and offers pots of flowers to pilgrims for Monday’s holy rites to Lord Shiva in Tarakeshwar
Photo: Sandy Ao
“I am still dazed!” wrote Sandy Ao. And who wouldn’t be?—before countless bouquets like these, alongside pots of milk with cannabis sprinkled on top.
Last Sunday, Sandy visited the Indian town of Tarakeshwar. Its temple, dedicated to the great Hindu deity Shiva, is one of the holiest shrines in the Bengal state. With her husband and three friends, she made the 35-mile trip west from Kolkata in advance of Monday’s holiday Shivarati—“Great Night of Shiva.” Vendors were already offering these herbal milks plus bunches of dahlias, sunflowers, marigolds, and Shiva’s favorite Calotropis, for sale to pilgrims.
“Tarakeshwar is one and a half hour journey by local train from Howrah station,” Sandy writes. “It’s a very peaceful and quiet place. Throughout the year there’ll be devotees coming from far and near to worship Lord Shiva and have a dip in the clear water in the pond. Mondays,” being Shiva’s sacred day, “will have more devotees than other days.”