February 22, 2017 10:25 PM

Facts You Do not Know about Maha Shivaratri!



Maha Shivaratri is the day totally dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva through day and night. Those who are the ardent devotees of Lord Shiva deem this day as the most religious and sacred in their life since it is the day very much liked by Lord himself as understood in His conversation with Goddess Parvathy.

 

What is Maha Shivaratri and when does it occur? 

 

Shivaratri

Every month we have Shivaratri on the Chahturdasi of Krishna Paksha. Maha Shivaratri is the Shivaratri that occurs annually on the Chathurdasi of (Krishna Paksha) in the month of Phalgun (February-March). It is the day Lord Shiva grants lots of blessings to His devotees and relieves them of their sins and cycle of birth and death.

 

Devotees of Lord Shiva observe fast on this day and keep vigil overnight in the prayer of Lord Shiva. The next day morning they break their fast after getting the prasadam of Lord Shiva. Some of them take a tour to jyothirlingams and pay their visits to temples in veneration of the Lord.

 

Legends behind Maha Shivaratri 

 

  • The primary legend behind observing Maha Shivaratri is the story of a woodcutter Lubdhaka who kept vigil over the night of Maha Shivaratri without his knowing it. When he went deep into the forest to collect wood, he lost his way in the dark and was sitting at the top of a bel tree. Being afraid that animals might kill him, he wanted to keep awake that night. In order to avoid sleep, he was throwing bel leaves one by one down the tree. In the morning when he came down, he was able to see that he had worshipped Shiva linga by throwing bel leaves on the linga. The night as worshipped by him has been celebrated as Maha Shivaratri.It is also that praying to Shiva with bel leaves is considered very auspicious by us.

 

Shivaratri legends

 

  • This day happens to be the day of marriage between Shiva and Sati (Parvathy, the daughter of Himavan). Sati after the insult of Daksha in the yagna was separated from Lord Shiva as she became the object of his anger. In order to get united with Shiva, she took birth as the daughter of Himavan and had a long penance and in the end got united with Shiva. This union is reflective of the joint power of Shiva and Sakthi without which the world will not function effectively.To venerate this power, we celebrate Maha Shivaratri.

 

shivaratri legend

 

  • It is also the day when Lord Shiva gulped the halahala poison emanating while Devas and Asuras were churning the ocean of milk to get amruta. when Devas and Asuras were churning the ocean of milk to get amrutham, halahala poison came out and started permeating the universe. Since it would destroy the whole universe with its poisonous nature, Lord Shiva gulped it and retained it in his throat which became blue in turn due to the poison held there. He got the name Neelakandar because of this. In order to thank the Lord for his benevolence, we celebrate Maha Shivaratri on this day.

 

It is also the day when Lord Shiva appeared as a huge flame of fire, the top and bottom of whom could not be traced by Lords Vishnu and Brahma. Brahma took the form of a swan and Vishnu took the form of a boar and went in search of the top and bottom of Lord Shiva. Brahma went to find out the top and Vishnu searched for the bottom of the lingaswaroopiShiva.Both could not accomplish their tasks. On seeing a Thazhampoo in the upper part of the sky, Brahma lied that he had seen the top of Shiva. For his lie, he was punished by God without having a separate temple for him on earth. This day, Shiva took the form of linga which is worshipped on Maha Shivaratri with special abhishekams and poojas.

 

All these legends signify the magnificence of Lord Shiva and His immense grace shown to those who pray to him ardently for relieving them from critical predicaments.

 

How to observe MahaShivaratri? 

 

shivaratri abishekam

Maha Shivaratri is noted for the ascetic fasting devotees observe throughout day and night. Some devotees observe fasting without even drinking water. Others take fruits and milk while fasting.  Taking a holy bath in the morning, chanting slokas of Shiva, listening to the legends connected with Shivaratri, visiting temples where special pujas for Shiva are conducted, participating in the abhishekams conducted in temples for Shiva are the important aspects of worshipping Lord Shiva on this day. There are abhishekams conducted four times (four kalams) over the night of Maha Shivaratri.

 

In temples, there are special abhishekams every 3 hours and devotees visit temples to partake in these abhishekams and offer milk, honey, flowers and bel leaves for abhishekams and poojas. In North India, the devotees do Abhishekam to the linga by themselves whereas in South India, the devotees have the darshan of Lord Shiva during Abhishekam and gain His grace. The next morning after visiting the temple and getting the prasadam, the devotees break their fast.

 

Significance of Shivaratri Vrata

 

Maha Shivaratri is the day one can be absolved of his sins through ardent prayers to Lord Shiva. It also relieves him of the cycle of birth and death.  Maha Shivaratri dispels darkness and ignorance from the hearts of people. It is praying by day and night and thus keeping a control over our rajas and tamas natures. Rajas nature represents our evil aspects like jealousy, anger etc. and tamas represents our inertia. By praying in the day time, we are able to control our mind and its ill aspects. By praying at night, we keep awake and are able to stay away from inertia. Thus, Maha Shivaratri is the day for dispelling our ignorance and having the fire of spiritual knowledge (as symbolised by Shiva in the form of the huge flame of fire).

 

In India and Nepal, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in the most religious and sacred manner. Pashpathinath temple in Nepal, KasiViswanath and Jyothirlingams are the famous temples where this festival is celebrated in a grand manner.

 

So, praying to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivaratri will bring tons of benefits to the devotees as it is the day liked by Lord himself and taking part in the abhishekams in temples or doing puja at home is the way one can attain a place under the feet of Lord Shiva in Kailash.

 

 

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