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Monday, 12 February 2018
Maha Shivratri is an important festival listed in Hindu calendar.It occurs on fourteenth day of lunar month Magha. It is celebrated to worship Lord Shiva. This festival is very popular in India and Nepal.People observe fast all through the day and observe night vigil all through the night.Special prayers like chanting Siva mantras and vedic hymns are performed in Siva Temples.
Rituals and Customs.
On the day of celebration devotees rise up early and take a bath to purify their body.Bathing in holy water like ganga is considered very auspicious. After that they pay a visit to temple where they perform offerings to sivalinga.Temple priests worship sivalinga by abhisheka, that is pouring water etc on Sivalingam. Six different types of abhisheka is performed pouring water, milk, ghee, honey, sugar and yogurt over sivalingam, following this they apply vermillion paste to on shivling ,since it represents Virtue.Then bilva leaves , preferably a stalk with three leaves is placed on top of Linga ,as this might cool the deity.Devotees offer betel leaves ,flowers and many other auspicious materials to please the deity. Abhisheka purifies the Shivling and thus the soul.Devotees spend the whole night chanting mantras,hymns and singing devotional songs.The next day they beak the fast.The next morning they break their fast by accepting prasad from the temple priest.
Benefits and Significance of Shivratri.
Mahashivratri is a sacred and significant day of Hindu tradition. The holy bath along with a full day fast will make devotee's body clean and mind purified.As the devotees stay awake throughout the night, the spine remains vertical and this causes a uplift of spiritual energy through sushumna.Planets placement of this sacred day is such that , there will be an upsurge of spiritual energy in all human beings.According to Hindu Mythology he who observe Mahashivratri vrat with sincerity will be blessed by the the Lord Shiva ,thus he will be freed from all sins, and birth cycle.Mahashivratri vrat is observed very seriously by women both married and unmarried.Goddess Parvathy the consort of Lord Shiva will bestow them marital bliss, prosperity and longevity.
Legends of Shivaratri.
There are many legends which are related to Mahashivratri.Scriptures and Puranas shed light on different stories,let us go through the details briefly.
The Marriage of shiva Parvathi is the most important legend behind Shivaratri vrat.Once when Mahadeva( Shiv) along with Sati(sakthi) was travelling through a forest,where they met Rama the incarnation of vishnu.Shiva bowed his head in front of Rama .Surprised by husband's behaviour Sati asked Lord Shiv why he was paying venerance to a mere mortal.Lord informed her that Rama was an incarnation of Mahavishnu.Sati was not satisfied with the answer and Shiva asked to verify.Sakthi ( sati) took form of seetha and went in front of Rama.Rama identified her as Sati and sati realised the truth behind Rama.Since Seetha was motherlike to Shiva , after this event Siva was unable to consider as a wife and began to see her with a detached vision.Sati was really unhappy about this change in siva.
After that Daksha Sati's father arranged a Yajna and he did not invited either Sati or Siva.But still sati went to attend the Yajna , Daksha didn't pay any attention to her, Sati feel severely humiliated and sacrifice herself by jumping into the Yajna fire.The enraged shiva performed Rudra tandava or Dance and destroyed Daksha's kingdom.The whole universe was horrified since Rudra tandava has the power to destroy whole universe.Mahavishnu sliced Sati's body into twelve parts and scattered it on earth.where ever it fell there surfaced sakthi peeth.After that Lord Shiva took severe penance and was living detached life at Himalaya.Sati reborn as God Himalya's daughter and she observed penance to get his consort back.As advised by Kamadeva Parvathy performed dance to break Shiva's meditation, at the same time Kamadeva shot his arrow of desire at shiva.Mahadeva got furious ,opened his third eye and burned kamadeva into ashes.Parvathy continued her penance and at last Shiva changed his mind.Shiva agreed to marry parvathy and soon they got married.That was fourteenth day in magha month and their marriage anniversary is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
Another legend goes to Samudra Manthan explained in Purana's.Deva's and Asura's jointly decided to churn the Milk ocean in order to obtain the Nectar.During the churning a disastrous poison called Haala-hala emerged , since the poison could destroy whole universe Deva's ran to Mahadeva for help.Lord Shiva drank the poison to save the universe.Parvathi hold his neck to prevent it from reaching the stomach and as a result poison remained in the throat. Due to the toxic effect Lord Shiva's throat became blue colored giving him the name Neelakanda.God's observed a night vigil in respect to Mahadeva and this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
The legend of Hunter goes like this.A hunter went to forest to obtain wood and food.During his return he lost his way and caught in the middle of the deadly forest.Some animal chased him and it was getting dark.So he climbed on a Bael tree in order to spend his night.He decided to stay awake to prevent him from falling.He plucked and dropped the leaves.The leaves fell on the Shiva Linga located under the bael tree, although hunter was not aware of it.Lord Shiva pleased with his worship and that day is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
There are many other legends behind Mahashivratri, but the concept is the same.