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Maha Shivaratri

 Maha Shivaratri

The Hindu festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in worship of lord Shiva. The term of ‘Maha’ refers for great and ‘Shivaratri’ refers for the nigh of Shiva, thus defining it as the great night of Lord Shiva.

About Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva, also known as Mahadev, is one of the Hindu trinity of Lords. He is known for his extremely generous nature, who easily bestows his blessings on his true devotees.

Beliefs for This Day
There are different legends associated with this day. Here are the most prominent of them. It is believed to be the day when Lord Shiva got married to Mata Parvati. It is on this day that Mata Parvati profoundly prayed and meditated to ensure that Lord Shiva remain secure from any sort of evil impacts as raised out on that moonless night. It is the day when Lord Shiva performed ‘Tandava’. It is the day when Lord Shiva manifested himself as Lingam.

 Time of Celebration
According to Hindu calendar, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the 14th night of the New Moon of the month of Maagha or Phalguna. According to Georgian calendar, it unusually falls either in the month of February or March.

Rituals and Celebrations
1. All Hindu temples, in specifically Shiva temples, make special arrangements for this day. Amongst varied important festivities happening around, International Mandi Shivaratri Fair of Mandi in Himachal Pradesh is one celebration that draws devotes in large numbers from all around the world.

2. Taking a ritual sunrise bath on this day holds utmost importance. Those with an easy access to holy Ganges water prefer to take dip in the sacred waters. After that, people get dress up in clean clothes, and preferably new clean clothes, and move out with their families to make a visit to any nearby Shiva temple. Besides worshipping Lord Shiva, it is believed to be extremely positive to convey devotion to Lord Vishnu and Lord Sun on this day.

3. Special prayers of adoration are offered to Shiva Lingam, one very prominent representation of Lord Shiva worshipped prevalently around Shiva temples. As a part of the same, a ritual bath of Lingam is performed by milk, ghee, yoghurt, sandalwood, honey, sugar, and rose water, with the echoed sounds of ‘Om Namah Shivaye’ chanted all along the process. After that, vermillion paste is applied to it. This is usually performed by the priest of the temple. Devotees, on their part, move around Ligam taking either three or seven rounds, and then pour water or milk over it.

4. Conventionally, there is a ritual of offering Bilwa leaves to the Lord on occasion. While some believe these leaves to create soothing impact on Lord who is believed to short on anger, some believe them to be the of Goddess Laxmi. Other than that, fresh fruits are offered, and incense sticks and ghee lamps are lightened up.

5. As a part of its rituals, devotees of Lord Shiva observe an all-day fast and an all-night vigil for the festival. Doing so confers one with an overall enhancement in the practice of Yoga and meditation, as principally confirmed by scriptures and traditions. While some choose to abide by a strict fast consuming and drinking nothing, some go on a diet of milk and fruits. People break their fast by taking Prasad as offered to the deity on the next morning, after being a part of night-long vigil.

6. Carrying forth the belief associated with the festival, married women belonging to Hindu households pray Lord Shiva on this day for ensuring wellbeing of not only their husbands, but sons as well. Also, unmarried women perform prayers for getting as ideal husband as Lord Shiva.

7. Performing devoted worships to Lord Shiva on this day derives one with enormous amount of virtue. It is believed that whosoever chooses to do it devotedly gets liberated from all past sins, as well as attains an eternal liberation from the unending cycle of birth and death (i.e. attainment of Moksha).

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