The festival of Maha Shivratri is celebrated as a sacred day of Lord Shiva on the thirteenth or fourteenth day during the month of February or March (Phagun). Maha Shivratri means "the big night of Lord Shiva". The rituals associated with Maha Shivratri are performed during night and it is also believed that Lord Shiva got married to Goddess Parvati on this festival of Maha Shivratri.
The festival of Maha Shivratri also indicates the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandav dance.
Meaning of Mahashivratri
- People fast on the festival of Maha Shivratri and devote their maximum time remembering Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- Lingam of Lord Shiva is worshiped in a very traditional manner where the lingam is offered with honey, milk, water, honey, fruits and bael leaves. While offering these things to the lingam of Shiva people recite "Om Namah Shivaya"
- The famous festival among the Hindus of Maha Shivratri 2015 falls on 17th February 2015
- This occasion falls on the Krishna Paksha of Phalgun (the Hindu month), which at the same time relates to the February – March months of the English calendar. The Maha Shivratri 2015 is the day which celebrates the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
- The actual meaning of Mahashivratri is the ‘night of Shiva’ when the Lord is worshipped with all dedication in the Hindu fraternity.
- On the moonless night of Mahashivratri, thousands of devotees offer their prayers to the Lord in various Lord Shiva temples.
- On the day of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva was married to Parvati and people celebrate this day by observing fast and chanting prayers.
- There are various ways to celebrate Mahashivratri. Perked up with utmost devotion and religious commitment, people across India (also abroad) get into the groove of worshipping Lord Shiva.
- It is through fast and worshipping the Shiva Linga that Shivratri celebrations take place. It is a common ritual of Shivratri celebrations with few minor variations in different regions.
- For all dedicated devotees of Shiva, the Shivratri festival every year is an important occasion. They all stay awake the entire night for offering prayers to him. Various rituals are performed for worshipping the Shivalinga.
- It is a practice by the devotees that they stay on fast the entire day and eat and drink only next morning after night long worship.
- Also known to be pious, it is on this day that married women offers prayers for the well being of their husbands and sons and correspondingly unmarried women prays of the festival of Shivratri to get an ideal husband like Shiva.
- Mahashivratri is the occasion when the Lord Shiva is worshipped with utmost dedication by chanting Shiv Chalisa verses.
- Lord Shiva is considered to be the Supreme Being as he is the creator, destroyer and preserver of the entire universe. Lord Shiva, with all mercy and kindness, protects his devotees from all evil around.
- The Twelve Jyotirlingas have been considered to have great religious esteem dating back to the ancient days. The Puranas, however, have detailed description about the twelve Jyotirlingas.
- It is believed that if one repeats the names of the Jyotirlingas, then their sins are all easily wiped off and it makes a person pure and calm. The locations of twelve Jyotirlinga temples are across all parts of India.
Legends of Shivratri
- There are varied Shivratri rituals which are followed during Mahashivratri. It is now when the devotees take a bath at sunrise (in the Ganges or any holy water source).
- Offering prayers to the sun, Vishnu and Shiva are also a part of the rituals of Shivratri. It makes all the Hindus pious and pure. After this, pots of water are carried to the temples for bathing the Shivalinga. Either water or milk is used for this purpose.
- Different legends of Shivratri are linked with this famous Hindu festival.
- In the Ramayana legend of Shivratri, King Bhagirath had left his kingdom for meditation (sole purpose was to achieve salvation of the ancestral souls).
- A thousand years of penance was observed by him whereby he requested Ganga to come down from heaven to earth and consequently, Ganga fell down on Lord Shiva’s head.