Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the major deities of Hinduism. Here are some facts about the festival:
- Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the 14th night of the new moon during the Hindu month of Phalguna, which falls between February and March in the Gregorian calendar.
- The word “Shivratri” means “night of Shiva” and “Maha” means great, so Maha Shivratri means “great night of Shiva.”
- It is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, a vigorous dance that symbolizes creation, preservation, and destruction.
- Devotees observe a strict fast on Maha Shivratri and offer prayers and offerings to Lord Shiva in the form of bilva leaves, milk, fruits, and sweets.
- It is believed that on Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva blesses his devotees with happiness, prosperity, and good health.
- The festival is celebrated in many parts of India, with the most famous celebrations taking place in Varanasi, Ujjain, and Jharkhand.
- In Nepal, Maha Shivratri is a national holiday, and thousands of devotees visit the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to offer prayers to Lord Shiva.
- Some people believe that unmarried women who observe the Maha Shivratri fast with devotion will be blessed with a good husband, while married women pray for the well-being of their husbands and children.
- The festival is also significant for yogis and spiritual seekers, who consider it an auspicious time to deepen their practice and connect with the divine.
- In recent years, Maha Shivratri has become a popular festival around the world, with celebrations taking place in many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
There are several stories behind the celebration of it. Here are a few of them:
- The Marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati: According to one legend, Maha Shivratri marks the day when Lord Shiva and Parvati were married. It is believed that Lord Shiva took Parvati as his wife on this day, and devotees celebrate the occasion with great fervor and enthusiasm.
- The Night of Lord Shiva’s Tandava: Another legend states that Maha Shivratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, a cosmic dance that symbolizes the cycle of creation, preservation, and destruction. The dance is said to have been performed on this night to mark the victory of good over evil.
- The Day Lord Shiva Saved the World: According to another story, Maha Shivratri marks the day when Lord Shiva saved the world from destruction by drinking the poison that emerged from the churning of the ocean. It is believed that the poison was so powerful that it could have destroyed the entire world, but Lord Shiva drank it to save humanity.
- The Day Lord Shiva Was Born: Some people believe that Maha Shivratri marks the day when Lord Shiva was born. According to this legend, Lord Shiva was born on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna, and devotees celebrate the occasion by offering prayers and performing rituals in his honor.
Importance Fasting on Maha Shivratri
Fasting on Maha Shivratri is an important aspect of the festival, and it is believed to have many spiritual and health benefits. Here are some reasons why people fast on Shivratri:
- To Gain Spiritual Benefits: Fasting is believed to help purify the mind and body and increase spiritual awareness. By abstaining from food and other worldly pleasures, devotees can focus on their prayers and meditation and deepen their connection with the divine.
- To Seek Blessings: Fasting on Maha Shivratri is believed to help seekers attain the blessings of Lord Shiva. It is believed that by observing a strict fast and offering prayers to Lord Shiva, devotees can receive his grace and blessings.
- To Develop Self-Control: Fasting is an act of self-discipline, and it is believed to help people develop self-control and willpower. By practicing self-control in this way, devotees can strengthen their ability to resist temptations and improve their overall character.
- For Health Benefits: Fasting is believed to have many health benefits, such as improving digestion, detoxifying the body, and boosting the immune system. By fasting on Shivratri, people can give their body a break from the regular intake of food and help it to heal and rejuvenate.
Overall, fasting on Maha Shivratri is an act of devotion and self-discipline that is believed to bring many spiritual and health benefits. However, it is important to remember that fasting may not be suitable for everyone, and anyone considering it should consult a doctor before doing so.
Shiv Puran mention Maha Shivratri
It is an important festival in Hinduism that is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva, and it is also mentioned in the Shiva Purana. According to the Shiva Purana, there are several stories and legends associated with the festival. Here are a few of them:
- The Legend of the Hunter: According to one story, a hunter was walking through a forest when he came across a Shiva Lingam. He was not aware of the significance of the Lingam and began to throw stones and other objects at it. However, to his surprise, he found that he had unknowingly worshipped Lord Shiva and had attained the Lord’s blessings. This story is often told to emphasize the importance of faith and devotion in the worship of Lord Shiva.
- The Legend of the Churning of the Ocean: Another story associated with Maha Shivratri is the legend of the churning of the ocean. According to the story, the gods and demons decided to churn the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality. However, during the process, many dangerous things emerged from the ocean, including poison. Lord Shiva drank the poison to save the world from destruction, and this act is celebrated on Maha Shivratri.
- The Legend of the Marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati: The Shiva Purana also mentions the legend of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati, which is believed to have taken place on the night of Maha Shivratri. According to the story, Parvati performed intense penance to win the affection of Lord Shiva, and finally, on Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva agreed to marry her.
- The Legend of the Dance of Lord Shiva: Another story associated with it is the legend of the dance of Lord Shiva. According to the story, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava, a vigorous dance that symbolizes creation, preservation, and destruction. This dance is believed to have taken place on the night of Maha Shivratri and is celebrated as a symbol of the cosmic cycle of birth and death.
How to worship Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri:
- Cleanse and Purify: The first step in the worship of Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri is to cleanse and purify oneself. This can be done by taking a bath and wearing clean clothes.
- Set up a Puja Altar: The next step is to set up a puja altar with a Shiva Lingam, flowers, fruits, and other offerings. The Lingam represents Lord Shiva and should be placed on a pedestal or platform.
- Offerings: The offerings that are typically made to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri include milk, honey, fruits, and Bilva leaves. You can also offer water and other items that are dear to Lord Shiva.
- Chant Mantras and Sing Bhajans: Chanting mantras and singing bhajans is an important part of the worship of Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri. most popular mantras for Lord Shiva are “Om Namah Shivaya,” which means “I bow to Lord Shiva.” and Mahamrityunjaya Mantra (महामृत्युञ्जय मन्त्र).
- Read Scriptures and Perform Puja: You can also read scriptures such as the Shiva Purana and perform puja rituals such as abhishekam (pouring of water, milk, or other offerings over the Shiva Lingam) and aarti (waving of a lighted lamp).
- Maintain a Fast: Fasting is an important aspect of the worship of Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri. Some people fast for the entire day, while others consume only fruit, milk, or other light foods.
- Stay Awake: It is customary to stay awake all night on Maha Shivratri and engage in worship and meditation. This is known as jagran and is believed to bring good luck and blessings.
Overall, the Shiva Purana contains many stories and legends associated with Maha Shivratri, all of which emphasize the importance of faith, devotion, and spiritual awareness in the worship of Lord Shiva.
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