The Holy Shrine of Kedarnath (one of the 12 Jyotir Lingas in Hinduism) is a beacon light of India’s most refined secularism. It is situated at a height of 3,583 m (11,755 ft), on the banks of the legendary Mandakini river, a tributary of Ganges. It is an impressive stone edifice of unknown date. The present structure is believed to have been constructed in the 8th century AD and is on a site adjacent to where Pandavas are believed to have built the temple.
It has one Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) and a Mandap and stands on a plateau surrounded by mighty snow clad peaks and glaciers of the towering Himalayan Mountain Range. [One can see the majestic heights of Kedarnath peak 6,940 m (22,769 ft) and Kedar Dome 6,831 m (22,411 ft)].
The first hall inside Kedarnath Temple contains statues of the five Pandava brothers and Draupadi, Lord Krishna, Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva and Virabhadra, one of the guards of Shiva. A medium-size conical rough stone formation is in the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) is the ruling deity, Lord Kedarnath Ji. It is revered and worshiped as Sadashiva form of Lord Shiva. Kedarnath, also means the ‘Lord of Kedar Khand’, the historical name of the region.
The head priest (Raval) of the Kedarnath temple belongs to the Veerashaiva community from Karnataka but pujas are carried out by Raval’s assistants on his instructions. There are five main priests for the temple, and they become head priests for one year by rotation. During Pooja of Lord Shiva at Kedaranath the mantras are pronounced in the Kannada language, a tradition hallowed by a history of hundreds of years.
Adi Shankara was believed to have revived this temple, along with the Holy Shrine of Badrinath..
The temple is opened Akshaya Tritriya to Kartik Purnima (the autumn full moon, usually November). During the winter months, the Vigrahas (deities) from Kedarnath temple and the seat of the Lord are brought to Ukhimath and worshiped there for six months.
Contributed By: Dr. Amitava Mukharjee
(He is the most renowned world economist on poverty alleviation and empowerment today. He has long association with United Nations for launching their initiatives on fight against hunger and providing micro assistance to most marginalised societies. He is a great scholar and has been teaching in University of London and Stanford University. He has travelled over 130 Countries and written numerous books. Deeply religious he has visited various holy shrines. We bring you glimpses of his travelogue.)
An eclipse is an astronomical event that occurs when one object in the sky moves into the shadow of another. In case of Lunar Eclipse, moon becomes partly or fully invisible due to the Earth blocking sun rays to it and casting shadow on it. It takes place on Purnima (full moon night) only, yet it’s not necessary to have eclipse on all Purnima.
Researchers have proven that at the time of eclipse the level of Raja- Tama component increases and the Sattva component decreases. They may have detrimental effects on the beings as the negative energies become quite dominant then the positive energies.
Why one should not eat during eclipse time?
No cooked food should be consumed during the stages of lunar eclipse because the food turns poisonous; when it is affected by the ultra violet rays during lunar or solar eclipse. Therefore the Hindus follow the tradition of keeping a kusha (a grass serving as non- conductor of electrical waves) and tulsi leaves (anti-bacterial) on cooked food and generally observe fasting.
Why to take bath after the eclipse?
One should take bath in the holy Ganges, sacred rivers, and ponds or even at home as a symbol of cleanliness and purity. It is believed that after eclipse the water exposed to the process becomes totally pure- like of river Ganga. Thus having a bath with pure water cleanses our body and soul.
Why to give charity during eclipse time?
As mentioned before, the effect of negative energies become dominant so to get rid of its effect, the noble deed of charity is good to the weaker section of the society. People may donate food, clothes, coins, lands, and copper or silver or good metal, as per their choice.
Why is it advised not to see the eclipse?
One should not see the eclipse with naked eyes as the Ultraviolet rays can seriously damage the eyes. We may turn blind or face damaging impact on the retina of the eye.
Message from the Lunar eclipse:
The blocking of the Moon’s reflection of the Sun’s light by the Earth suggests that our material viewpoint stands in the way of our “seeing the light”. It serves as a reminder that we need to realize how we are held in the dark by virtue of our perspective. Thus this is an excellent time to let go of the past and welcome the positive thoughts and behaviours.
(The lunar eclipse on September 28, 2015 is a total eclipse. This event is visible from Europe, Africa, the Americas, the eastern Pacific and western Asia.)