Sunday, March 3, 2019

Note on Words and Songs of Shivratiri

Among Kashmiris the words that are said in praise of Shiva-Parvati mostly involve Shrutis. There is Shiv Sankalp from Yajur Ved. There is Abhinav Gupta's Shiv Stuti and Shiv Chamar Stuti. 

Abhinav Gupta's Shiva Chamara Stuti starts with 'Ati Bheeshan...'. It's possibly the most famous one among Kashmiri Pandits...rendered in a peculiar sing-song manner. It is this peculiar meter that adds ‘Chamara’ to the name. 'Chamara’ meter – signifies the movement of a hand fan. ‘Chamara’ comes from the Sanskrit word 'Charmkara ' meaning tail of a yak. Apparently this tail was used as fan. [See images of Sikh Granthis in your mind]. 

Then there is Shivashtakam, Lingashtakam, then something that goes Shivoha-Shivoha-Shivoha (Nirvanasuktam), there is the famous ShivaPanchaShahastraStotra, Shri Rudrashtaka, Shiv Shadakshar Stotram that starts with 'omkar bindu sayankut' and I think a few more. Beltai Madal...Bhajan by Krishanajoo Razdan...most popularly rendered by Tibet Bakal.

I, like most Kashmiris, see this festival more as a wedding and it is celebrated as such. For Kashmiris it is the day of the actual wedding of Shiv and Parvati. And as often happens in weddings, ritual have greater impact than words. A perfect "saat" or timing is needed for weddings, and so are calculations done and the day of Shivratri decided (often there are disputes over the timing). Funnily, the word "saat" itself comes from the Arabic word for "hour/time/clock". 

The ancient rituals performed by Kashmiri Pandits, the actual beauty of this festival, was wedded into a poetic mystical experience by Pandit Krishnajoo Razdan (1850-1926) in his work Shiva Lagna. The rituals he described can he traced in the rituals now followed during the Pooza and these are also partly the Kashmiri marriage rituals. Like the ritual of looking into mirror is same for the couple getting married and for Shiv-Parvati during Shivratri pooza. 

The source of the Shiv Ratri Puja as performed by Kashmiri Pandits now is based on early 20th century documentation by Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotishi (1873-1946) who is credited for preserving a lot of old Kashmiri works by setting up a Printing Press that made ancient works cheaply and easily available to masses. Only two decades ago, the cassettes of the Shivratri Puja and the Booklets popular among Pandits are in fact produced by progenies of Pandit Keshav Bhat Jyotishi. Today the same are streamed online.

Lot of short-cuts and modification have been introduced in the Pooja since the old era but the procedure essentially remains the same. Some meanings are forgotten, and some are remembered. 

2 comments:

  1. The word Saath is a truncated form of the Sanskrit adjective सात्त्विक which means pure or good,opposite of tamasik.

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    1. Saatvik has nothing to do with it. It would have been fine if you claimed that saath of kashmiri comes from satas (good) of sanksrit. But, fact is saat is used in kashmiri for time. Thus we have word saat-saat, meaning counting moments. And we have satha, meaning a fraction of a moment. Have have double checked the word with Kashmiri language expert M.K. Raina who runs Milchar magazine.

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