Maha Shivaratri is a famous Hindu festival celebrated each year in reverence of Lord Shiva.Shivaratri is celebrated on 13th day of Falgun month - the last month of Hindu calendar.Maha Shivratri, which literally translates to "great night of Shiva" is a Hindu festival largely celebrated in India as well as in Nepal. The festival is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha according to the Hindu calendar. The day is celebrated to venerate Lord Shiva, an important deity in Hindu culture.
What is Maha Shivarati?
Shivaratri means the "great night of Shiva". Shivaratri is the night when Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya, or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.Shivaratri is also when Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva married again.
History and Rituals behind the Celebration of Maha Shivratri Festival
There are many stories attributed to the celebration of Maha Shivratri festival, but the popular one is when the Lord Shiva, saved the world from destruction by drinking the poison. According to the Puranas, once the Gods and demons decided to churn the ocean and distribute the things among themselves that emerged from it. When the ocean was churned (Samudra Manthan), a pot full of poison that could have destroyed the earth emerged. The Gods sought the help of Lord Shiva to protect the world. To save the mankind, Lord Shiva swallowed the poison. The poison was so deadly that the throat of the Lord turned blue, since then he is also popularly known by the name 'Nilkantha'.
Time to celebrate
Maha Shivaratri is held annually in February–March. During the festival, devotees don't eat all day and don't sleep at night. The event which is also called 'Night of Lord Shiva' involves offering flowers and fruit to a deity, ringing bells in the temple, and offering prayers to god. But the most important tradition is presenting milk and leaves to the Lingam. That's how devotees pay homage to Shiva.
How is celebrated Maha Shivaratri
Shivaratri Celebrations in India are marked with devotion and religious fervor. Joy is writ large on the faces of millions of Lord Shiva devotees as they start preparing for the biggest Lord Shiva festival in advance. Celebrations of Shivaratri began with the break of the dawn on the Shivratri day and continue all though the night. Devotees observe fast and spend the day in devotion and worship of Lord Shiva. Many worshippers also participate in the jaagran or the night vigil organized in various Shiva temples across the country. Devotees believe that sincere observance of Shivaratri puja and all night worship of Lord Shiva will absolve them of all their sins and liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.
Maha Shivratri Celebrations in Various Parts of India-
Maha Shivratri in Madhya Pradesh.
Maha Shivratri in West Bengal.
Maha Shivratri in Jammu & Kashmir.
Things to do on Mahashivratri-
1.Eat only once a day before Shivaratri.
2.After morning rituals, take Sankalp (resolution) to observe full day fast until next day.
3.Shiva Puja should be performed at night and you must break your fast next day after bath.
4.Meditate and Chant Shiva mantra “Om Namah Shivaye” on this day and perform Rudra Abhishek.
Legends of Maha Shivratri
It is believed that the people who fast on this night and offer prayers to Lord Shiva bring good luck into their life. The most popular Maha Shivratri celebrations take place in Ujjain, believed to be the place of residence of Lord Shiva. Large processions are carried out throughout the city, with people thronging the streets to catch a glimpse of the revered idol of Lord Shiva.There are several legends behind Mahashivratri festival. According to one legend, on this day Lord Shiva married Shakti (Goddess Parvati). This auspicious occasion was celebrated by all the gods of their respective abodes.Maha Shivratri is also celebrated when Lord Shiva performs His cosmic dance called Tandava.Brahma and Vishnu sang Shiva’s glory after he drank the deadly poison halahala. Although His divine consort Shakti averted the poison from going down, it turned His throat blue and Shiva was called Neel Kantha, the Blue-throated one. This day is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri.