Maha Shivaratri is one of the most significant festivals dedicated to Lord Shiva.
This is the only festival which has the prefix MAHA. Lord Shiva is the only God who is named as MAHA Devaa. And it is a well known fact, that, to overcome the most powerful lord of death ,( untimely, especially) the only mantra, that acts as Raksha is the MAHA Mrutyungya Mantra, the mantra , chanted to appease , Mahadevaa.
The day has many interesting Mythological stories behind it. According to most of the legends, the day of Maha Shivaratri is associated with Lord Shiva and many cosmic events related to Him took place on the very same day.
When is it celebrated?
There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month's 13th night /14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March) and before the arrival of spring, marks Maha Shivaratri which means "the Great Night of Shiva".
Maha Shivaratri Origin & Significance
Few of the popular beliefs that exist , behind observing Maha Shivaratri are -
- It is believed that during the creation of the universe, Lord Shiva was incarnated as Lord Rudra during the midnight of Maha Shivaratri with the grace of Lord Brahma.
- It is believed that Lord Shiva got married to Goddess Parvati on the very same day. The festival is observed as the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Hence, for many Shiva devotees, Shivaratri is observed as the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
- As per Hinduism, the creation and the destruction of the universe is a cyclic process. When the time comes, Lord Shiva destroys the whole creation with the fire of His third eye while performing the cosmic dance known as Tandava.Hence, Maha Shivaratri marks the anniversary of cosmic dance performed by Lord Shiva. It is believed that during the churning of the great ocean the poison also came out of the sea along with the Amruth. It had the power to destroy the whole creation. Lord Shiva drank the poison and saved the whole world from destruction. Hence, Maha Shivaratri is observed as the thanksgiving to Lord Shiva.
- The day of Maha Shivaratri is considered the most favorite day of Lord Shiva. Hence devotees worship Lord Shiva and observe a day and night long fast to please and to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva on His favorite day.
Maha Shivaratri Deity(s)
Lord Shiva is the main deity of Maha Shivaratri. Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam is worshipped on the auspicious day of Maha Shivaratri.
You may say that, Maha Shivaratri is the day of ‘austerity’ rather being the day of joy and merriment. Maha Shivaratri is observed for a single day and night.
Maha Shivaratri Observance
- The day and night long fasting
- Worshipping Shiva Lingam
- Abhishekam i.e. bathing the Shiva Lingam with water, milk and honey
- Offering Bel Patra i.e. wood-apple leaves ( Vilva ilai) to Shiva Lingam.
- Offering white flowers to Shiva Lingam
- Night long vigil while chanting Shiva Mantra and Stotram
Maha Shivaratri Dishes
- Bhang and Thandai
- In south, devotees who cannot do a full fasting, can cook Sakkaravelli kizhangu ( sweet potato) and mix it with sugar and eat once during the day.
Rangoli /Kolam for Maha ShivaRatri:-
- As a practicing Palmist / Numerologist , i find, whenever a person's passive palm has Dosha / defects due to deeds done in the yester years or previous jenma, success for that person can never be easy. It would always be a challenging path. For such persons, observing poojas and fasts on this most auspicious day, would significantly , dilute the misdeeds and bring in amazing good luck . Om NamahShivaayah !