What is Maha Shivratri?
Mahashivratri is a Hindu festival that is specially celebrated in India and as well as in Nepal in the honor of The God Of Destruction – SHIVA. Not to mention, Shivaratri is generally observed by Hindus.
This festival marks the overcoming of darkness and ignorance in life. Shivaratri is celebrated by simply remembering Shiva, chanting prayers of Shiva, practicing yoga, fasting, and contemplating ethics and virtues of honesty, restraint, and forgiveness.
When is Shivratri Celebrated?
According to the Hindu calendar, Shivaratri is celebrated every month i.e 12 times a year. On the contrary, Mahashivratri is observed once a year in late winter (February/march or PHALGUNA).
The 13th night i.e the waning crescent phase at night and the 14th day i.e the new moon phase during the day of every lunar month is observed as a day of Shivaratri.
Among all the twelve Shivaratri, Mahashivaratri is observed in February-march lunar month. In layman, one can say that in a calendar year, we have 11 Shivaratri and 1 Mahashivratri.
Not to mention, Shivratri is also known as “The Night Of Shiva”. On the other hand, Mahashivratri is known as the “The Great Night Of Shiva”.
Spirtual Significance of Mahashivratri
According to Sadguru, On this auspicious night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being.
This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we established a certain festival which is nightlong.
He further adds that to allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way, one of the fundamentals of this nightlong festival is to ensure that you remain awake with your spine vertical throughout the night.
To sum up, one can say that just before the start of the spring season in the northern hemisphere, Mahashivratri is celebrated.
Why we celebrate Mahashivratri?
Frankly speaking, why we celebrate Mahashivratri is a million-dollar question. I mean, there are so many distinct theories related to the celebration of Mahashivratri.
That’s why I am going to explain each one of them in a detailed manner. Not to mention, I will keep the best one for the last. Therefore, I would suggest you keep reading!!!
- Shivaratri is the day when the absolute formless god SADASHIVA appeared in the form of (Shankara) Kailashpati Shiva (One Of The Tridev).
- Shivaratri is the day when Lord Shiva was married to her better half DEVI PARVATI.
- On of the story of Shiva states that Shivaratri is the day when Lord Shiva swallowed the deadly poison that arose during the churning of the ocean i.e Sāgara Manthana (सागरमन्थन). Therefore, by this deed, Shiva became Neelkanth Mahadev.
- According to some other legends, Shivaratri is the day when Mahadev performed the divine dance of creation, preservation, and destruction. In Hindu culture, this divine dance of Shiva is known as the Tandava dance or Tāṇḍava nṛtya.
As I said, I will keep the best of the last. The above-mentioned legends or Mythological Stories are often regarded as The Origin Of Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri.
But there is one more mythological story of the origin of Shivaratri and as well as the creation of Phases Of The Moon. Keep reading!!!
Why Is Shivratri Celebrated? (Exclusive One)
This story of Mahashivratri is from the time when the Adi Shakti was on the earth (Bhuloka) as the Goddess Sati. Just to mention, Adi Shakti is the eternal consort of Lord Shiva.
Similarly, just like Goddes Parvati, Goddess Sati was also the wife of Shiva. Not to mention, Goddess Sati was on Earth long before the emergence of Goddess Parvati.
Prajapati Daksha and His Daughters
Devi Sati was the daughter of the Prajapati Dakṣa. According to Puranas, Prajapati had so many daughters. Just to mention, Prajapati Daksha is the lord of all born being and son of Lord Brahma.
Moving ahead, out of so many daughters, Prajapati married his 27 daughters to Chandra dev. Okay, Chandradev is the Moon God or we can say to the natural satellite of the planet earth.
These 27 wives of Chandra are the 27 Nakshatras (the constellations) which are on the moon’s orbit. Chandra was the son of Vedic sage Atri (one of the Saptarishi) and Anasuya.
Chandra and His Unforgivable Deeds
Even though Chandra married 27 daughters of Prajapati Daksha. Yet, he overly favored only one daughter i.e Rohini. Therefore, Chandra while being in love with Rohini, neglected the needs and responsibilities of the other 26 wives over Rohini.
As a result, some of the wives of Chandra complained about the neglecting behavior of Chandra dev to their father Daksha. As a father, Daksha became furious over Chandra dev unforgivable deeds.
Curse of Daksha
Just because of the unforgivable behavior of Chandra, Prajapati Daksha cursed Chandra to wither and die or he will have to suffer from “Kshay” – deterioration of body within a limited period of time. Only Mahadev could protect the Chandra from the wrath of Prajapati Daksha.
Even Mahadev was Cursed by Daksha
During that time, Prajapati Daksha had also abandoned the worshipping of Lord Shiva. In other words, Daksha had cursed Lord Shiva that no one will pray to him. Why?
Because Lord Mahadev had cut one of the five heads of Lord Brahma. That’s why Lord Brahma has only four heads. Therefore, as the devotee son of Lord Brahma (also due to anger), Prajapati cursed the Lord Mahadev that no one will pray to him.
As I said, only Mahadev could save Chandra from the curse of Prajapati. And, for that Chandra had to pray to lord shiva. But due to the curse of Prajapati on Mahadev, worshipping of Shiva was totally abandoned. What to do now?
Role of Goddess Sati
With help of Lord Vishnu (the preserver) and Lord Brahma (the creator), Devi Sati relieved Lord Shiva from the curse of Prajapati Daksha. That means anyone can worship Lord Shiva.
Hence, then in order to get rid of the curse, Chandra worshipped and performed the hardest penance of “Mahamritunjaya Mantra” composed by Sage Markandeya to please The Supreme One.
As a result, Lord himself appeared in front of Chandra. Not to mention, at first, Mahadev was himself reluctant to remove the curse given by the Prajapati. Simply because what Chandra had done to his wives was unforgivable.
For the Sake of Nature and its Balance
Yup, you heard me right. For the sake of the well-being of nature and planet earth, Lord Shiva agreed to relieve Chandra from the curse of Prajapati Daksha, but, not completely.
And for that, Mahadev explained to Chandra that he had to face the curse but only half of it. Therefore, Mahadev placed Chandra on his head and gave Chandra the boon that, ” in a month, for 15 days he would face the curse and decrease in size and for 15 days he would grow to the larger extent”.
Origin of Somnath Temple
The place where Chandra worshipped Lord Shiva is now known as Somnath temple which is in Gujrat made by Chandradev himself.
The day when Lord Shiva protected the Chandradev from the wrath of Prajapathi Daksha and also the Devi Sati relieved Lord Shiva from the curse of Prajapathi Daksha come to be known as the origin of Mahashivaratri festival.
Not to mention, This is also the day when Mahadev accepted Devi Sati as his eternal consort. Though, he married her much later.
How to Do Mahashivratri Fast?
Mahashivaratri fast is considered one of the most important fasts for the devotees of Lord Shiva. As Shiv Purana says that if a devotee observes Mahashivratri Vrata with sincerity, pure devotion, and love; he is blessed with the divine grace of Lord Shankara.
Moving ahead, it is a well-known fact that, “Mahadev to bas ek Bel Patra se khiche chale aate hai”. But, those devotees who want to observe strict Mahashivratri fast should take bath with water that is being boiled with black sesame seeds.
Why Because bathing with sesame seeds water washes away the bodily impurity. After bathing, a devotee should put on fresh clothes.
Then the devotee should visit the nearest Lord Mahadev temple to pray and perform the rituals such as ShivLingam bath with water, milk, and honey, etc.
Following the sacred bath, a devotee should apply Haldi-Kumkum on ShivaLingam and place white and pink colored flowers.
After that, a devotee should place Bel Patra on the top of the ShivaLingam. To praise Lord Shankara, aarti and bhajans are sung to invoke the blessings of a large-hearted Lord Bhole Nath.
Prayers to Lord Shiva
There are so many different kinds of prayers that are offered to Lord Bhole Nath during Maha Shivaratri. In my view, while ShivLingam Abhishekam a devotee should pray:
“O, Lord! I will bathe Thee with water, milk, etc. Do Thou kindly bathe me with the milk of wisdom!!! Do Thou kindly wash me of all my sins, so that the fire of worldliness which is scorching me may be put out once for all, so that I may be one with Thee-the One alone without a second”
Lord Shiva Boon to Whoever observes Mahashivaratri
Lord Shiva says:
Maha Shivaratri ka Vrat Visesh Falon Ko Pradan Karne Wala Hai. Is vrat ko rakhne se Purusho (man) ki saari manokaamnaae puri hongi, Suhaagan strio (married girl) ka suhaag bana rahega. Aur, kuwari ladkio (unmarried girl) ko mann chaha var milega.
Though my blog is related to the aspect of physics. But as a devotee of Lord Shiva, I could not stop myself from writing an exclusive piece of article on Mahashivaratri.
At last, I wish you a great, prosperous, and Happy Mahashivratri. Not to mention, Mahashivratri 2021 will occur on Thursday, March 21.