Mahashivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in the honor of the God Shiva. On this day Lord Shiva married to the Godess Parvati. The Maha Shivaratri festival is also known as ‘Shivaratri’ or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, marks the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. The festival is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Maagha as per Amavasya-ant month calculation. As per Poornima-ant month calculation, the day is Krishna Paksha Trayodashi or Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Phalguna which falls in February or March as per the Gregorian calendar. Of the twelve Shivaratris in the year, the Maha Shivarathri is the most holy.
Pashupatinath, a famous temple in Nepal where millions of Hindus from all over the world witness and celebrates Shivaratri together. Many devotees attend Mahasivaratri at Shiva Shakti Peetham, one of the famous temple in Nepal.
Hinduism is the leading single religion of the Indo-Caribbean communities of the West Indies. Hindus are particularly well represented in Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. In Indo-Caribbean communities throughout the West Indies, thousands of Hindus spend the auspicious night in over 400 temples across the country, offering special jhalls to Lord Shiva.
Why We Celebrate Mahashivaratri Festival?
There are many legends associated with the Mahashivaratri festival.
According to a legend, when a hunter not been able to find anything to kill for his food in the forest, he waited on a branch of a Woodapple tree. In order to attract deer, he started throwing the leaves of the tree on the ground, unaware that there was a Shiva Lingam beneath the tree. Pleased with the Woodapple leaves and the patience of the hunter, it is believed that Lord Shiva appeared in front of the hunter and blessed him with wisdom. From that day onwards, the hunter stopped eating meat.
Another legend has it that after the Earth was faced with an imminent destruction, Goddess Parvati pledged with Lord Shiva to save the world. Pleased with her prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to save the world on the pretext that the people of the Earth would have to worship him with dedication and passion. From that day onwards, the night came to be known as Maha Shivratri and people began worshipping Shiva with a great enthusiasm.
Some folklore also consider this to be Shiva’s day as this was believed to be the answer given by Lord Shiva when asked about his favorite day by Goddess Parvati.
Customs & Traditions of Mahashivaratri
Usually people fast during Mahashivaratri as they believed that prayer would not be completed without fasting. The devotees on this day chant a matra of God Shiva which is “Om Namah Shivaya” and powerful ancient Sanskrit mantras such as Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. People do penances by practice of Yoga and meditation to have life’s highest good steadily and swiftly.
On this auspicous day people take bath with the boiled water to get rid of impurities. They add black sesame seeds in the water to fulfill the particular wish. After bath, the devotees wear the new clothes and perform plenty of traditional rituals. They sing ritual songs to praise Lord Shiva. The Shiva Lingam takes bath with the honey and milk. The Shiv Lingam decorated by the while & pink flowers and fruits. Devotees apply Haldi-Kumkum to the Lord Shiva.
On Maha Shivaratri, Nishita Kala is the ideal time to observe Shiva Pooja. Nishita Kala celebrates when Lord Shiva appeared on the Earth in the form of Linga. On this day, in all Shiva temples, the most auspicious Lingodbhava Puja is performed.
(Nishita Kala period is chosen to do pujas and worship on the Shivaratri day. For a festival to be fixed there should be a Nishita Kala on the day).
Other traditional worship of Lord Shiva
The twelve Jyotirlingas (lingams of light) are sacred shrines to Lord Shiva, and centres for his worship. They are known as Swayambhus, meaning the lingams sprung up by themselves at these locations, and temples were built there afterwards.
|1) Somnath Temple||Viraval port-Prabhas Pattan in Saurashtra||Gujarat|
|2) Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy||Srisailam in South Indian||Andhra Pradesh|
|3) Mahakaleshwar||Ancient city of Ujjain||Madhya Pradesh|
|4) Omkareshwar||Mandhata or Shivapuri Island in the Narmada river||Madhya Pradesh|
|5) Kedarnath||Garhwal Himalayan range near Mandakini river in Kedarnath||Uttarakhand|
|6) Viswanath||Varanasi||Uttar Pradesh|
|7) Trimbakeshwar||Trimbak, in the Trimbakeshwar tehsil in the Nashik District||Maharashtra|
|8) Vaidyanath Temple||Deoghar in Deoghar District||Jharkhand|
|9) Aundha Nagnath||Aundha in Hingoli District||Maharashtra|
|10) Rameshwar||Rameswaram||Tamil Nadu|
|11) Grishneshwar||Ellora near Aurangabad||Maharashtra|
|12) Bhimashankar||50 km from northwest of Khed, near Pune||Maharashtra|
For more details about Jyotirlingas please “click here”