Maha Shivaratri, meaning the night of Shiva, is a powerful Indian festival to honour Lord Shiva, the god of destruction of the false ego. It is said that worshipping of Lord Shiva on Shivaratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity by overcoming darkness and ignorance in one’s life. The celebration is performed by fasting during the day and holding an all-night vigil around a sacred fire chanting holy mantras and making offerings to Shiva.
“This is Arunachala-Shiva, the ocean of grace that bestows liberation when thought of.” Ramana Maharshi
The Arunachala Maha Shivaratri retreat is an auspicious occasion to burn karma at the foot of the holy fire mountain, Arunachala, known as the heart of Shiva. Arunachala serves as a powerful catalyst in the quest for self realisation.
Tiruvannamalai is one of India’s sacred power spots better known for the holy hill, Arunachala, revered since ancient times. The spiritual power of Arunachala has attracted saints and sages, and seekers of truth down through the ages, most recently, the well-known sage Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950), who introduced the practice of self-enquiry as the principle means to self-realization.
This retreat is a precious opportunity to dive deep within, to stop using our thoughts to filter our experiences and to drop into the realization of our essential peace-filled nature. Over seven days we will engage in body, mind, and spirit practices, and contemplations that will inspire inner transformation and healing as unconscious patterns of our mental and emotional past dissolve in the light of awareness.
The retreat schedule includes daily asana, pranayama, chanting/ bajans, meditation, and yoga nidra to align in body mind focus, followed by satsang and self awareness exercises and contemplations to deepen introspection. The schedule may be adjusted at different times to meet the flow of the group.
0630 to 0730 – Hatha yoga asana and Pranayama practice 0730 to 0800 – Chanting/ Bajans 0800 to 0900 – Breakfast 0900 to 1030 – Satsang and Meditation 1030 to 1100 – Tea/coffee break 1100 to 1230 – Awareness workshop* 1230 to 1330 – Lunch 1330 to 1430 – Yoga Nidra 1430 to 1530 – Contemplation 1530 to 1600 – Tea/coffee break 1600 to 1800 – Free time 1800 to 1930 – Evening programme** 1930 onward – Dinner
*Awareness workshop: In the silence, stuff will arise that the mind can be pulled into unless we are stabilised as the witnessing presence. Self awareness is key to maintaining an objective perspective so to enhance our awareness we will explore our psychological self from a third person perspective and identify the mindset cycles of impressions and desires that keep us on the treadmill of suffering.
**Evening programme includes a walk to the local Vediyappanur village, the Maha Shivaratri all-night fireside vigil, a visit to the 1200 year old Adi Annamalai temple, circumnavigation of Arunachala, a visit to Ramana Ashram for chanting, and a musical evening with musicians.
Tuesday Evening – Maha Shivaratri all night fire vigil In the evening we will build a sacred fire place and spend the night chanting mantras and sing in praise to the Lord of the Universe while make offerings to the fire that it may burn our karma and grant us liberation.
Thursday – Day of Silence A day in silence is a powerful support to inner contemplation and deepening in self-awareness. The programmed schedule will continue but conversation will be kept a minimum.
Friday – Day tour in town Full day and evening visiting Ramana Ashram and Tiruvannamalai town. Morning at Ramana Ashram for the pooja (temple blessing) followed by meditation in the meditation hall. Breakfast at the Sheshadri ashram including a tour of the grounds followed by a silent sitting with ShivaShakti Amma. Lunch at Ramana Ashram then climbing Arunachala to the caves for meditation. Evening visit to Arunachalaeswara temple followed by chanting at Ramana ashram and free time.
The facilitator is Linda Fancy, a devotee of the advaita master, Mooji, in the lineage of Ramana Maharshi. She heard the call to Arunachala whilst living in Hong Kong and by the grace of the Beloved she has been developing Achalam eco-ashram to serve the awakening of humanity. Linda is trained as a neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioner and has developed awareness tools and methodologies to help facilitate self-discovery.
Retreat Venue and Accommodation
The retreat will be held at the eco-ashram, Achalam, nestled in the farming area of Vediyappanur village, Tiruvannamalai, that looks onto Arunachala two klms away in the east. Achalam is established on the eco theme with the idealism of living sustainably in harmony with nature and the ashram theme of creating a centre for spiritual growth. The facilities are simple consisting of eco-conscious buildings made from mud and stone. For those wanting to stay at Achalam, camping style accommodation with shared bathroom is available by donation either outside on the land in a tent or inside one of the eco-buildings with a mattress and mosquito net.
Sourcing other local accommodation renting options of private rooms or houses can be offered upon request with sufficient notice.
The food served at Achalam is South Indian vegetarian, and lunch along with tea and coffee will be included in the retreat fee. Breakfast and dinner are available for an additional cost.
Achalam Eco-Ashram Guidelines
In order that Achalam maintain the focus for which it is intended, we have established some guidelines to help support this.
Eco-accountability It is strongly advised that visitors be conscious consumers and use organic toiletries where possible as water drainage goes straight from the bathroom into the earth which produces our food.
Minimizing Plastic There is no rubbish collection in rural India so any rubbish is either buried or burnt. Please bring reuseable water bottles and minimize use of plastic. Recycle cloth bags are better than plastic as are reusable containers
Dress Sense Living with Indian values and among renunciated types, it is important to restrict body exposure. Loose cool, cotton pants, long skirts and tops covering legs and arms is best. Bring a hat for sun shade.
Inner Focus The power of impersonal relations supports spiritual growth in ashram community living. To respect each one’s inner focus it is encouraged that couples find their own individual sleeping space.
The town of Tiruvannamalai is a 3½ hour taxi ride (200klms) from Chennai airport. The cost of the taxi is approximately Rs. 3000. You could also take the bus.
To get to Achalam eco-ashram travel the girivalam road circumnavigating Arunachala until you come to Vediyappanur village road (approx. 5 klms from Ramana Ashram) on your left just after Surya Lingam and before Varuna Lingam temples. You take the road for two klms and it will veer to the right and then to the left. On the left veer you will see Devantale road on your right so you take a right turn and you are directly facing the Achalam eco-ashram grounds. You have arrived! Welcome home to Arunachala!
We can help you arrange a taxi and accommodation with enough notice as this is a busy season in Tiruvannamalai.
Cost and Registration
The cost of the Arunachala Maha Shivaratri retreat is $US538 for seven days or if you pay the fee in full before December 10, 2017, you can enjoy an early bird rate of US$487. The retreat cost includes all activities and lunch, and excludes accommodation, air ticket and transfers. Breakfast and dinner are US$3.20 each meal.
Full payment for the retreat is due by December 28, 2017. For information and bookings please contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or on (852) 6140 8761 or (91) 76393 68634. Also visit our page at www.facebook.com/achalam.ecovillage