Shiva: Matchmaker God

A time-honored Hindu practice yields powerful romantic results

If you're looking for the perfect soulmate, there is no need to haunt the bars, gyms, and other mating spots. Just keep a fast for Lord Shiva!

I speak from experience. Many moons ago, when I was 23 and living in India, marriage was all my parents had in mind. My sisters, aunts, and sisters-in-law, as well as many of my friends, ate just one meal on Mondays and performed special rituals as a tribute to Shiva, the granter of good mates. Everyone pressured me to keep this weekly fast too, and so I finally embraced it.

Just two and a half weeks after I began the fasting regimen-and totally unexpectedly-I got engaged. My aunt had heard of a very suitable boy, and she arranged a meeting between the two families. What none of the adults knew was that he and I had already met in Hong Kong and were absolutely delighted to be matched. The relatives just stared open-mouthed as we laughed and chatted as if we were the only ones in the room! Coincidence or divine intervention? I really don't know. But decades later, I'm still happily married to the same man.

I'm convinced that there's nothing like having a mighty matchmaker on your side. Shiva found me a better mate than I could ever have found on my own. Not surprisingly, I continue to keep this Monday fast. It's a very spiritual practice that sets the tone for the rest of my week.

In Hinduism, there's a fast to honor practically every deity. In northern India, Monday is Shiva's day, while on Tuesday, the Hanuman devotees keep a fast. In the South, the Tuesday fast honors Skanda, while Thursday is the fast day for Vishnu. In the intimate rituals of vrata or fasting, devotees come close to the deity, adding their personal wishes to their prayers.

While there are many festivals in India during which women fast for the welfare of their husbands, Shiva is the god most Hindus turn to for good spouses and a harmonious family life. A very complex God, Shiva is not only temperamental and passionate but also deeply responsive to sincere devotion.

Because Hindu mythology tells us that Parvati, Shiva's consort, won him over by meditation and fasting, many married women and single girls keep his fast. Parvati, the daughter of King Parvatraja, fell in love with Shiva, an ash-smeared wandering ascetic. She could not get his attention because he was deep in meditation, and so she fasted to win him. Kama, the god of Love, intervened by shooting an arrow of flowers from his sugarcane bow at Shiva. With his concentration disturbed, Shiva opened his eyes and saw Parvati standing before him. He instantly fell in love with her.

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Lavina Melwani
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