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  • Mahashivaratri Festival

    Mahashivaratri Festival

    or the The Night of

    Shiva is celebrated with

    devotion and religious

    fervor in honor of Lord

    Shiva, one of the deities

    of Hindu Trinity.

    Shivaratri falls on the

    moonless 14th night of

    the new moon in the

    Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the

    month of February - March in English Calendar.

    Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe

    day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva

    Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.

    Legends of Mahashivratri There are various interesting legends related to the

  • festival of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the

    most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day

    of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that it was on

    the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva

    performed the Tandava, the dance of the primal

    creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular

    Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was

    on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the

    form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be

    extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they

    celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of


    Traditions and Customs of Shivaratri

    Various traditions and customs related to Shivaratri

    Festival are dutifully followed by the worshippers of

    Lord Shiva. Devotees observe strict fast in honor of

    Shiva, though many go on a diet of fruits and milk some

    do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees strongly

    believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the

    auspicious day of Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins

    and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death.

    Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for

    women. While married women pray for the well being

    of their husbands unmarried women pray for a husband

    like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband.

    To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early

    and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After

    wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest

    Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum

    with milk, honey, water etc.

    On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all

    through the day and night. Every three hours priests

    perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with

    milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the

    chanting of Om Namah Shivaya and ringing of temple

    bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in

    Shiva temples where large number of devotees spend

    the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise

    of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that

    devotee break their fast by partaking prasad offered to

    the deity.

  • Marriage of Shiva and


    The legend of marriage of

    Shiva and Shakti is one

    the most important

    legends related to the

    festival of

    Mahashivaratri. The story

    tells us how Lord Shiva

    got married a second time

    to Shakti, his divine

    consort. According to

    legend of Shiva and Shakti, the day Lord Shiva got

    married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivaratri - the Night

    of Lord Shiva.

    The Legend

    Legend goes that once Lord Shiva and his wife Sati or

    Shakti were returning from sage Agastyas ashram after

    listening to Ram Katha or story of Ram. On their way

    through a forest, Shiva saw Lord Rama searching for

    his wife Sita who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the

    King of Lanka. Lord Shiva bowed his head in reverence

    to Lord Rama. Sati was surprised by Lord Shivas

    behavior and inquired why he was paying obeisance to

    a mere mortal. Shiva informed Sati that Rama was an

    incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Sati, however, was not

    satisfied with the reply and Lord asked her to go and

    verify the truth for herself.

    Using her power to change forms, Sati took the form of

    Sita appeared before Rama. Lord Rama immediately

    recognized the true identity of the Goddess and asked,

    "Devi, why are you alone, where's Shiva?" At this, Sati

    realized the truth about Lord Ram. But, Sita was like a

    mother to Lord Shiva and since Sati took the form of

    Sita her status had changed. From that time, Shiva

    detached himself from her as a wife. Sati was sad with

    the change of attitude of Lord Shiva but she stayed on at

    Mount Kailash, the abode of Lord Shiva.

    Later, Satis father Daksha organised a yagna, but did

    not invite Sati or Shiva as he had an altercation with

  • Shiva in the court of Brahma. But, Sati who wanted to

    attend the Yagna, went even though Lord Shiva did not

    appreciate the idea. To hre great anguish, Daksha

    ignored her presence and did not even offer Prasad for

    Shiva. Sati felt humiliated and was struck with profound

    grief. She jumped into the yagna fire and immolated


    Lord Shiva became extremely furious when he heard

    the news of Satis immolation. Carrying the body of

    Sati, Shiva began to perform Rudra Tandava or the

    dance of destruction and wiped out the kingdom of

    Daksha. Everybody was terrified as Shivas Tandava

    had the power to destroy the entire universe. In order to

    calm Lord Shiva, Vishnu severed Sati's body into 12

    pieces and threw them on earth. It is said that wherever

    the pieces of Shaktis body fell, there emerged a Shakti

    Peetha, including the Kamaroopa Kamakhya in Assam

    and the Vindhyavasini in UP.

    Lord Siva was now alone undertook rigorous penance

    and retired to the Himalayas. Sati took a re-birth as

    Parvati in the family of God Himalaya. She performed

    penance to break Shivas meditation and win his

    attention. It is said that Parvati, who found it hard to

    break Shivas meditation seeked help of Kamadeva -

    the God of Love and Passion. Kaamadeva asked Parvati

    to dance in front of Shiva. When Parvati danced,

    Kaamadeva shot his arrow of passion at Shiva breaking

    his penance. Shiva became extremely infuriated and

    opening his third eye that reduced Kaamadeva to ashes.

    It was only after Kamadevas wife Ratis pleading that

    Lord Shiva agreed to revive Kaamadeva.

    Later, Parvati undertook severe penance to win over

    Shiva. Through her devotion and persuasion by sages

    devas, Parvati, also known as Uma, was finally able to

    lure Shiva into marriage and away from asceticism.

    Their marriage was solemnized a day before Amavasya

    in the month of Phalgun. This day of union of God

    Shiva and Parvati is celebrated as Mahashivratri every


    Another Version of the Legend

    According to another version of the legend, Goddess

    Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious

  • moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that

    may befall her husband. Since then, womenfolk began

    the custom of praying for the well being of their

    husbands and sons on Shivaratri day. Unmarried women

    pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be

    the ideal husband.

    Mahashivaratri Legends Marriage of Shiva and Shakti | Samudra

    Manthan | Legend of

    Shivaratri Pooja

    Shivaratri Pooja has been

    given tremendous

    significance in Hindu

    mythology. It is said that

    ritual worship of Lord

    Shiva on a Shivaratri day

    pleases Lord Shiva the

    most. Devotees further

    believe that by pleasing

    Lord Shankara on the

    auspicious Shivaratri day, a person is absolved of past

    sins and is blessed with Moksha or salvation.

    Merits of Shivaratri Puja According to Shiva Purana, sincere worship of Lord

    Shiva yields merits including spiritual growth for the

    devotees. It also provides extensive details on the right

    way to perform Shivratri Puja.

    Shiva Purana further says that performing abhisheka of

    Shiva Linga with six different dravyas including milk,

    yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water while chanting

    Sri Rudram, Chamakam and Dasa Shanthi pleases Lord

    Shiva the most. According to the mythology, each of

    these dravya used in the abhisheka blesses a unique


    Milk is for the blessing of purity and piousness.

    Yogurt is for prosperity and progeny.

    Honey is for sweet speech.

    Ghee is for victory.

    Sugar is for happiness.

    Water is for purity.

  • Besides, worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri is also

    considered to be extremely beneficial for women.

    While, married women pray to Shiva for the well being

    of their husbands and sons, unmarried women pray for a

    husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal


    Getting Ready for Shivratri Puja

    To perform the worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri,

    devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably

    in the holy waters of river Ganga. This is followed by

    worship to Sun God, Vishnu and Shiva in accordance

    with the purification rite observed on all-important

    Hindu festivals. Devotees then wear fresh new clothes

    and pay a visit to the nearest Shiva temple. As a

    tradition, devotees observe a fast on a Shivaratri day.

    Some do not consume even a drop of water.

    Legend of Shiva L