Maha Shivaratri fest facts

Maha Shivaratri

What is Maha Shivratri? 

Shiva’s night, Shivratri or Maha Shivratri is a very ancient, but an important Hindu festival that is celebrated throughout India, each year in honour of the Lord Shiva

When Shivratri is celebrated? 

There is a Shivaratri in every 13th/14th night of the luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, but once a year, before the arrival of summer, marks Maha Shivratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”. It’s a solemn festival marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world.

What is the difference between Shivratri and Maha Shivratri? 

Shivratri comes every month, whereas Maha Shivratri is the great night of Lord Shiva that occurs only once a year.

 Why do we celebrate Maha Shivratri?

The festival of Maha Shivaratri celebrates the grand marriage of the lord Shiva with goddess Parvati, who is also known as Shakti (power).
The duo of Shiv and Shakti is considered a symbol of love, power, and togetherness.

How is Mahashivratri celebrated? 

It is observed by remembering Shiva by_

  • Chanting prayers
  • Fasting, abstaining from food and water.
  • Yoga & Meditation to search for the immortal consciousness within us & connect with the Absolute.
  • Contemplate ethics & virtues. Awaken from ignorance & protect the self from vices e.g. lust, anger, greed & ego. 

What do you do on shivratri day?

  • ●    Ardent devotees keep awake all night with special prayers offered in all Shiva temples throughout the holy night.
  • ●    On this auspicious day, several powerful Shiva Mantras are chanted to worship the Lord, who is believed to be the power behind all the holy mantras. These mantras help in cleansing the mind, asking for protection and safety, for good health and a peaceful life. Shiva Mantras have tremendous healing powers, as he is the lord of “immortality”.
  • ●    Devotees go on a pilgrimage. A steady stream of pilgrims attends one of the 12 Shiva sanctuaries, called Holy Jyotir-lingas  even today, as they have for thousands of years. Shiva’s numerous shrines throughout India hold many yogic powers, where prayers are believed to be answered.

Four main events in Shiva’s life are celebrated on Maha Shivratri:

  1. At midnight, it is believed that the Absolute, the cosmic form of energy appeared as Shiva as the Fire within the lingam column. He is worshipped in the form of a lingam and yoni, which represent the male and female reproductive parts. This signifies regeneration.
  2. The festival commemorates the grand marriage of Lord Shiva with Devi Parvati. On this day two energies of universal consciousness and universal bliss come together. This Shiv-Shakti is considered to be the epitome of love, power & togetherness. Shakti is seen as the left half of his own body & this fusion of Shiva and Shakti is ‘ArdhaNarishwar’Unmarried women pray and observe fasts on the day to wish for a partner as compassionate as Lord Shiva.
  3. It’s a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting us from annihilation. The churning of the ocean or Samudra Manthan by the Gods & Demons also yielded poison or “halahal”, which would have destroyed mankind. However, Lord Shiva drank this poison, which stayed in his throat, & turned it blue.  Fortunately, he did not swallow the poison due to a blockage created by Goddess Parvati.  Is also called “Neelkanthan” or one with a blue-throat. 
  4. It’s the night that Shivji’s form, Natraj, performed the “Tandav”, meaning the “Dance of Bliss.

Panchakritya or five acts of Lord Shiva The dance depicts five types of eternal energy, called panchakritya:

  • Creation
  • Destruction
  • Preservation
  • Salvation
  • Illusion-It symbolizes the
  • Cosmic cycles of creation and destruction
  • The daily rhythm of birth and death.

How do you worship Shiva on Shivratri? 

Shiv Puja (Worship of Lord Shiva) is done either at home or at the temple. At midnight, Shiva Lingam Abhishekham takes place, which are the offerings of water, curd, sugarcane syrup, milk, honey, flowers & fruit to the Lingam, the iconic representation of Shiva. 

What should we not do on Shivratri? 

For any person consumption of non-vegetarian food, alcohol & tobacco is prohibited.

Which Mantras should we chant on Maha Shivaratri?

  • Shiv Mantra for eradicating fear: ऊं नम: शिवाय (Om namah Shivaya).
  • Rudra Mantra for seeking Lord Shiva’s blessings: ॐ नमो भगवते रुद्राय (Om Namo Bhagvate Rudray)
  • Shiv Dhyaan Mantra for increasing concentration.

ध्यायेन्नित्यं महेशं रजत गिरिनिभं चारुचंद्रा वतंसम्,
रत्ना कल्पोज्ज्वल्लंग परशु मृगवरा भीति हस्तं प्रसन्नम्।
पद्मासीनं समंतात स्तुतं मरगणैर व्याघ्र कृतिं वसानम्,
विश्वाध्यं विश्व बीजं निखिल भयहरं पंच वक्रं त्रिनेत्रम्।।

(Dhyaneniyam mahesham rajat girinibham charuchandra vatansam, ratna kalpojjvallang parashi mrugvara bhiti hastam prasannam.
Padmasinam samitat stutam margnair vyaghra krutin vsanam, vishwadhyam vishv beejam nikhil bhayharam panch vakram trinetram.)
  • Mahamrityunjay Mantra for increasing longevity

त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृ त्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्

(Om Trayambakam Yajamahe Sugandhim Pushtiwardham
Urwarukmivbandhanaan Mrityormuksheey Mamritat)
  • Shiva mantra for health and wealth

कर्पूरगौरं करुणावतारं संसारसारं भुजगेन्द्रहारम् ।
सदा बसन्तं हृदयारबिन्दे भबं भवानीसहितं नमामि ।।

(Karpur Gauram Karunavataram, Sansara Saram Bhujagendra Haram, Sada Vasantam Hridayaaravinde, Bhavam Bhavani Sahitam Namami.)

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