Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri/padmarajarathri is a great festival in Hinduism, celebrated annually with the devotion and religious enthusiasm in the honor of the Lord Shiva, deities of Hindu Trinity. The literal meaning of Shivaratri is “The Great Night of Lord Shiva”. According to the Hindu calendar, it is celebrated in the Varanasi in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha at the 13th night or 14th day of the month Maagha or Phalguna (month of February or March according to the English calendar) to worship Shiva Lingam to make happy the Lord Shiva.
This festival is celebrated to respect Lord Shiva by offering leaves of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam, Bhang, Dhatura, flowers, coconut, fruits, water, cow milk and other things. Devotees keep fast of full-day and full-night and pray to Lord Shiva for their beautiful life partner with healthy and prosperous life. According to the ritual belief and traditions, penances are performed to get benefited in the practice of Yoga and meditation. Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi is one of the most important places for tourist attractions in the UP state where a big fair is held on at Maha Shivratri in front of the Virla temple and Vishwanath Gali of the old Vishwanath temple.
Another myth of celebrating Maha Shivaratri in Hinduism is that, whole world was facing destruction and more near to the pralaya, and then the Goddess Parvati had worshiped her husband the Lord Shiva to save the world. Finally her prayer was approved by the Lord Shiva and then Goddess Parvati named that night, the Maha-Shivaratri, or the great night of Shiva.
Maha Shivaratri 2014
Maha Shivaratri 2014 would be celebrated at Friday, 28th February.
Favorite Day of the Lord Shiva
It is believed that after completion of the creation of world, Goddess Parvati asked to Lord Shiva that which devotees and rituals satisfied him the most, and then Lord Shiva replied to Goddess Parvti that the 13th night of Maagha is his most favorite day. After that she repeated the words of Shiva to her friends, and then the word spread all over world.
Rituals of Maha Shivratri
At Maha Shivratri, People keep fast of whole day and night and Kashi Vishwanath temple gets congregated by the young and old devotees from the very early morning. They come to the temple to perform the puja of traditional Shivalingam and hope to get what they have prayed to the god. They take bath in the holy water of the Ganga (Symbol of the purity) early in the morning before sunrise and wear a clean clothe after the sacred bath.
Every worshiper brings a pot full of holy Gange water to the temple to offer the Shivalingam. Women pray to God for her well-being of their husbands and sons, an unmarried woman pray to get their desired husband like Shiva (the ideal husband) in future; boys pray to get beautiful wife and successful life in future. The temple full of sound of bells and people shouts of “Shankerji ki Jai” or “Mahadevji ki Jai”. Devotees take 5 round of the Shivalingam and pour water on the Shivalingam. Some also pour cow milk on the Shivalingam.
According to the Shiva Purana, the Mahashivaratri puja involves six steps which are:
- Taking bath in the Gange for purification of soul and body. Bathing of the Shiv Linga with the holy water of Gange, then bathing with milk and honey. God Shiva loves bel patra (three leaves stalked in one) so every rituals added it to the puja.
- After bathing of the Shiv Linga, vermilion paste applied on it which represents the virtue.
- Offer fruits, flowers which are given to get long life and satisfaction of desires.
- Burning enrage yields wealth.
- The lighting with diya represents achieving more knowledge.
- Offering betel leaves provide satisfaction full of great pleasures.
Worshipers also apply three horizontal lines of holy ash on their forehead just like the Lord Shiva which represents spiritual knowledge, cleanliness and penance. They wear garland made up of the Rudraksha (seed of Rudraksha tree) while worshiping the Lord Shiva. It is believed that Rudraksha tree was originated from the tears of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is also considered as the wedding day of the Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati.
Traditions and Customs of Maha Shivaratri in Benaras
A variety of traditions and customs associated with the Maha Shivaratri are followed by worshipers of the Lord Shiva from era in Benares. This festival is celebrated in the dark fortnight or in a moonless night. It is also considered that, at the Shivaratri Lord Shiva had performed the Tandava Nritya which is known as the dance of primeval creation, conservation and demolition. Devotees keep strict fast on this day in the respect of Shiva, they eat only fruits and drink milk, some of them do not take even a single drop of water.
At Maha Shivaratri, worship goes on whole day and night. Three hours of ritual puja performed by priests of the temple by bathing Shivalingam with the cow milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and the Gange holy water with the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya” and sound bells together. A large number of devotees take part in jaagran and spend their full night by chanting Shiva mantras and other devotional songs in the honor of Lord Shiva. In the next morning devotees break their fast by taking prasad of the Lord Shiva.
Shivaratri Pooja has remarkable significance in the Hinduism. According to the Shiva Purana, Shiva worship has merits means a sincere worship give up more blessings than others.
What makes the Lord Shiva please more?
It is written in the Shiva Purana that doing abhisheka of the Lord Shiva Linga with six dravyas such as cow milk, yoghurt, sugar, honey, ghee and Gange water while reading Sri Rudram, Chamakam and Dasa Shanthi pleases more the Lord Shiva. Milk is for the approval of cleanliness and faithfulness, yogurt for wealth and offspring, honey for sweet tongue, ghee for success, sugar for pleasure, and water for purity.
Significance of Mahashivaratri
It has great and tremendous significance for the millions of rituals of Lord Shiva. Festival of Mahashivaratri falls on fourteenth day of the Phalgun month in the dark fortnight to please Lord Shiva in order to fulfill desires. It has another great significance for Women. Both married and unmarried women keep strict fast and do Shiva Puja with very honesty to conciliate the Goddess Parvati or Gaura who can provide the marital bliss as well as long and wealthy married life to the woman. At Mahashivaratri, the marriage of Lord Shiva with Mata Parvati takes place which start from Mahamrityunjaya temple Daranagar to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi.