shivaratri nightout

RwB: Today is MahaShivarathri

It would be nice if you could share how you had spent this shivaratri. Here is my story.

There are various versions of the story of Shivaratri – here is the one close to what I’d been told:

‘A hunter was roaming in the jungle on the bank on the Kolidum River. He was chasing after a deer when he heard the growl of a tiger. He ran as fast as he could and climbed up a tree nearby. The tiger stood at the foot of the tree, and did not leave. All through the night, the hunter had to stay up in the tree. Afraid that he would fall if he fell asleep, he gently plucked one leaf after another from the tree and threw it down.

At the foot of the tree was a Shiva Linga (an image of Lord Shiva). Without realizing it, the hunter, who was sitting on a vilva tree, threw the leaves down at the Linga. The tiger left in at sunrise. The hunter looked down, and found that the tiger was gone, and in its place stood Lord Shiva. The hunter prostrated in front of Shiva and received mukti-the release from the cycle of birth and death’.

Source: Indiadivine: A Discourse on Shivaratri by Swami Sivananda

One important point to note above, is that, atleast in the version of the story familiar to me – the hunter was completely illiterate and innocent, and had no knowledge at all about Shiva. He was not even thinking that he was worshipping. He had no intellectual opinions whatsoever, which could form barriers for himself. So a perfect candidate for the murderer’s club 🙂

Currently am thoroughly enjoying reading Dialogue with Death by Eknath Easwaran. Its been an excellent read so far, starting with a very informal yet thought provoking description of the story of Nachiketha, the young teenager who set out to encounter and learn from Yama, the God of Death.

One valuable point in the beginning of the book that the author makes is…

“In Hindu mythology, I should explain, there is a great deal of personification. Forces of nature and of the mind are represented in gods, goddesses, and daemons; states of consciousness become unearthly realms.”

So just my personal view, this is where we need to look, this is where we need to celebrate Shivaratri. My first preference was to simply experiment – by trying to emulate the hunter’s circumstances – no food (anyway I’d taken nothing after breakfast except water), sitting isolated, just mesmerised in total concentration all night.

But anyway since other family members + one more elderly lady (neighbour) were also there, a plan B looked more appealing. Beautiful writeup on Mahashivaratri by Bellur, listed various events.
Considering that jokes are a way to God, we concurred on another item on Bellur’s post Nage Habba, Malleswaram Ground, 6.30 p.m. – festival of laughter – comedians who would perform all night in Malleswaram Grounds!

Well we did come home well after midnight since my neighbor had never stayed up so late and was becoming impatient. But had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves anyway. Not just the comedians, even the huge crowd of 100s was a wonderfully attentive and responsive audience.

[Btw I tried to stay up for the rest of the night to revert to Plan A but fell asleep! :mrgreen: ]

Anyway here are a couple of more short video clips taken on that night… its all in Kannada.

The super hit of the night (while we were around) was Mahabharata’s Draupadi Vastraabharana as Ravi Belegare of Crime Diary fame would’ve narrated it. [Will update the comedian’s name as well shortly]

If you know Kannada, its just fantastic and really worth the wait to view the videos (audio is more important).

6 Responses to “shivaratri nightout”

  1. Suresh Panje Says:

    It is an informative piece to know the present day events on the occasion of Shivaratri in my good old Malleswaram. So much to a certain extent, your commentary made me 41 years younger since after having left Bangalore in 1966, I have had no inkling of festivities, be they religious or otherwise. Reading your article took me back to the days of ‘50s and early ‘60s.
    As for the ‘Ratri’ of Shivaratri in Malleswaram, apart from the devotees thronging the Kadu Malleswara temple on Sampige Road (near the 15th Cross), the Shani Mahatme drama staged at the playgrounds of Malleswaram Middle School used to be a prominent event. But for the stage erected with bamboo and “chapra” next to the pavilion, it was an open air drama.
    Of course, it used to be a houseful show. As for keeping the audience warm during the night long drama that would go on until the early morning hours, there were those ground nuts (boiled as well as roasted), masale vade and alu bonda (jocularly called simme yenne bonda because kerosene oil stoves were used to fry them), tea or coffee and badam milk vendors. Certain residents had the privilege of squatting on a jamkhana in the front while the rest of the commners sat behind, mostly on tarpaulin spread on the ground. Of course all in the entire audience were ‘zamindars’ (sitting on the ground) and not ‘gaddars’ (no cushions etc. to recline).
    Just in front of the stage, at a corner used to be a garlanded photograph of Shani Dev with a pujari in attendance. Apart from the audience performing Aarati, at frequent intervals in tune with the sequence on the stage, the Pujari performed Aaratis and pass on the plate to the audience. Completing the circuit, the plate would return with ample coins of 3 kasu (copper ones with a hole in the centre), 1 aane (1 Annas), 2 aane (2 Annas), 4 aane (4 Annas). The resourceful would drop 8 aane (8 Annas). When the Indian currency became Metric in 1956, alongside the older versions, there used to be the copper 1 Naya Paise, nickel 2 Naya Paise, 5 Naya Paise and 10 Naya Paise. NP was the abbreviation for Naya Paise till 1962.
    Unlike today when every other event, be it social, cultural or religious, heralds more about the sponsors (logos and banners) and lends more prominence to celebrities and the clan of VIPs (very irresponsible persons) than the occasion for which the function is hosted, the Shani Mahatme Nataka in Malleswaram had a sponsor who never advertised himself.
    For years together this benefactor sponsored the Shani Mahatme plays but always kept a low profile. He was neither a modern day social bootlegger who flaunt the ill-gotten riches in a vulgar fashion nor a corporate bigwig. He was a simple grocer named Yellappa. He had a shop on the Margosa Road next to CTR (Central Tiffin Rooms), facing the very ground where the dramas were staged. It was said that Yellappa spent nearly 1000 to 1500 rupees every Shivaratri to stage Shani Mahatme dramas. During the 1950s, indeed it was a Herculean sum.
    All said and done, although this drama was staged religiously on the playground facing our home (my ancestral home named Ganapati Mandir) was at the junction of 5th Cross and 4th Main Roads, not even once I could see the complete drama. The elders at home insisted that we three brothers (Dinesh, Ramesh and yours truly) return home by 11.00 p.m.
    Thus I missed many hilarious events on the stage about which I could learn only the next day. It seems (probably it was 1954) there was this scene of Indra landing on the earth in the heavenly craft like Pushpak Vimana. The actor was to enact this scene by sitting in a cradle that was lowered from the top. Unfortunately, either the rope snapped or the person lowering the cradle was careless that resulted in Indra landing with a thud! Fortunately, he did not do it on the top of the other 2 or 3 actors on the stage in that particular scene. It was also said the troupe staging this drama was an amateur group and they did it for Yellappa without any monetary gain! Perhaps this group being amateur was the reason that on a couple of occasions, the actor playing the role of a Brahmin wore the janivara (sacred thread) not from left donwards but the other way!
    Well such used to be the ‘Ratris’ of Shivaratris of yore in Malleswaram.

  2. msanjay Says:

    heh heh that reminds me of that last scene from the movie jane bhi do yaaro, a vcd my friend lent me yesterday!

  3. usha Says:

    Super hasya sanje recordings sanjay

    Illindane namage a madhura sanjeya commentry odagisidakke … sanjayanige vandanegaLu…:)

  4. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    sanjay, thanks for the video.

    suresh, superb commentary about the sivaratri celebrations in malleswaram during 50s and 60s. you have a terrific memory.
    just curious to know if Yellappa is F/o Benne Lakkappa?

  5. Vani Says:


    My dad says all the BeNNe in Lakkappa’s store now go to CTR to turn out that fabulous BeNNe Masaale that we love.

    Ajji maneli till very recently beNNe was bought from Lakkappa’s store.

    Suresh, nice story.

  6. bellur ramakrishna Says:

    thanks for the lovely info vani!

Leave a Reply