15 Days of Prayer for the Hindu World: Day 14
Maha Shivratri, the Great Night of Shiva, is a significant festival for Saivite (Shiva-focused) Hindus, though many non-Saivite Hindus also participate. Shiva is often portrayed as an ascetic, and the festival of Shivratri involves numerous ascetic rituals. Many adherents stay awake, worshiping throughout the night as part of the celebrations.
Krishna Janmashtami is a birthday festival in commemoration of Krishna’s birth. Vaishnava (Vishnu-focused) Hindus make up the largest variety of Hindus, and Krishna is the most popular of the Vishnu avatars (incarnations). This festival is celebrated widely with many local variations. In Mumbai, for example, human pyramids attempt to reach and break a dangling clay pot filled with buttermilk.
Another significant festival that is commonly celebrated under various names is Navratri, or “The Nine Nights”. Worship during Navratri primarily focuses on the goddess Durga’s destruction of a great demon.
Christmas and Good Friday are national holidays in India, and many Hindus celebrate Christmas in some form. While these celebrations are primarily seen as Western traditions, and often feature Santa Claus more than Christ, they still provide one of the few opportunities that Hindus may have to hear the gospel.
Ways to Pray
- Pray that Hindus would see and respond to the story of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection as the perfect example of a Savior willing to do the hard things out of love for all peoples. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6)
- Pray that, in the midst of festivals, Hindus would find the pure, living God and that they would finally proclaim the glory of Jesus with all their immense creativity and joy.
- Pray for Christians to reach out to Hindus, particularly during Christmas and Easter, sharing the true meaning of those festivals.