Maha Shivratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is celebrated with religious fervor by devotees. This day is observed on the 13th night/14th day of the 11th Hindu month of Phalguna or Maagh (February-March) every year. Read on to know more interesting facts about this auspicious day…
1) Maha Shivaratri celebrates the union of Shiva and Shakti, the two greatest forces of the Universe
2) The term Maha Shivaratri means ‘Great Night of Shiva’
3) Shiva married Parvati on this day
4) It was on this night that Lord Shiva performed the Tandava dance, the furious dance of all creation and destruction in the Universe
5) It is a special night for unmarried women, who want a husband like Lord Shiva as he is the ideal companion
6) Married women pray for their husbands well being and unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva.
7) Nishita Kala or the time when Lord Shiva manifested as Shiva Lingam on earth is the most important time of the night for Shiva puja.
8) Maha Shivaratri observances include poojas, abhisheka, fasting and staying awake at night with prayers and meditations. Devotees observe fast on the day before the Maha Shivaratri night. Some people have food only once while some follow a fruit and milk diet.
9) Shivalinga is a major ritual on Maha Shivaratri. Bathing the Shivalinga is performed using Milk, Honey, Sugar, Butter, black sesame seeds, Ganga Jal etc. After this, sandalwood paste and rice are applied on Shivalinga and fresh fruits and flowers are offered.
10) It is believed that by worshipping Lord Shiva and observing Maha Shivaratri fast for the entire night, one can have control over the negative thoughts like anger, lust, greed etc.
May you find your life partner this year with Lord Shiva’s blessings and wish you all a very Happy Maha Shivaratri!
Lesser Known Facts about Maha Shivratri
- Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva, and in particular, marks the day of the consummation of marriage of Shiva. There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month’s 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or phalgun) and before the arrival of Summer, marks Maha Shivaratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”.
- The Maha Shivaratri is mentioned in several Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana. These medieval era Shaiva texts present different versions associated with this festival, & mention fasting, reverence for icons of Shiva such as the Lingam.
- Different legends describe the significance of Maha Shivaratri. According to one legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva’s presence everywhere.
- Nishita Kala or the time when Lord Shiva manifested as Shiva Lingam on earth is the most important time of the night for Shiva puja. Bathing the Shivalinga is performed using Milk, Honey, Sugar, Butter, black sesame seeds, Ganga Jal etc. After this, sandalwood paste and rice are applied on Shivalinga and fresh fruits and flowers are offered.
- According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. Millions of people visit the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples or their local temples to offer prayers and witness the Rudra Abhisekham of Lord Shiva on this night. The Shiva Panchakshari Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya is chanted by devotees along with His different names. It is a special night for unmarried women, who want a husband like Lord Shiva as he is the ideal companion.
- A different legend states that the offering to Shiva icons such as the linga is an annual occasion to get over past sins if any, to restart on a virtuous path and thereby reach Mount Kailasha and liberation.
- The significance of dance tradition to this festival has historical roots. The Maha Shivaratri has served as a historic confluence of artists for annual dance festivals at major Hindu temples such as at Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera and Chidambaram. This event is called Natyanjali, literally “worship through dance”, at the Chidambaram temple which is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra.
- Maha Shivaratri is considered the day when adiyogi or the first guru awakened his consciousness at the material level of existence. According to Tantra, at this stage of consciousness, no objective experience takes place and the mind is transcended. The meditator transcends time, space and causation. It is regarded as the brightest night of the soul, when the yogi attains the state of Shoonya or Nirvana, the stage succeeding samadhi or illumination.
- Maha Shivratri celebrates the union of Shiva and Shakti, the two greatest forces of the Universe. It is believed that Maha Shivratri is the favorite night of Lord Shiva. Devotees can get liberation from their sins if they take the name of Lord Shiva during this auspicious night. Devoted worship of Lord Shiva on this night also helps one achieve success and prosperity, and drives away evil spirits.
- On the day of Shivaratri, a hunter, who had killed many birds in a forest, was chased by a hungry lion. The hunter climbed a Bilva tree to save himself from the lion’s attack. The lion waited throughout the entire night at the bottom of the tree for its prey. In order to stay awake to avoid falling from the tree, the hunter kept plucking the leaves of the Bilva tree and dropping them below. … continued …
- The leaves fell on a Shiva Linga that happened to be located at the bottom of the tree. Shiva, who was pleased by the offering of the Bilva leaves saved the hunter in spite of all the sin the hunter had committed by killing the birds. This story emphasises the auspiciousness of worshipping Shiva with Bilva leaves on Shivaratri.
- The legend of Shiva Linga is also deeply related to Maha Shivratri. According to the story, Brahma and Vishnu searched hard to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. It has been believed that on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna, Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri – the grand night of Shiva. … continued …
- To celebrate this occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva keeps fast during the day and worship the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping Lord Shiva on Shivratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity. One of the interesting facts associated with this festival is consuming bhang mixed with sweetened milk as prasad which is also known as “Thandai” by Shiva followers.
- The Mandi fair is in the town of Mandi is particularly famous as a venue for Maha Shivaratri celebrations. It transforms the town as devotees pour in. It is believed that all gods and goddesses of the area, said to number more than 200, assemble here on the day of Maha Shivaratri. Mandi, located on the banks of Beas, is popularly known as the “Cathedral of Temples” and one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh, with about 81 temples of different Gods and Goddesses on its periphery.
- In Kashmir Shaivism, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated by the Hindus of Kashmir and is called, “Herath” in Kashmiri, a word derived from the Sanskrit word “Hararatri” the “Night of Hara” (another name of Shiva). Shivaratri, regarded as the most important festival of the community, for instance, is celebrated by them on trayodashi or the thirteenth of the dark half of the month of Phalguna (February–March) and not on chaturdashi or the fourteenth as in the rest of the country.
- Many also say that on this day Lord Shiva took the form of Shivalingam, which is worshiped as a symbol of Lord Shiva all over the world. According to the legend associated with the origin of the worship, the linga appeared at pradoshakala or the dusk of early night as a blazing column of fire and dazzled Vatuka Bhairava and Rama (or Ramana) Bhairava, Mahadevi’s mind-born sons.
- There are 12 Shivratris in the year. Out of the 12 Shivratris in the year, the Mahashivratri is considered to be the most auspicious one.
- Millions of people visit the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva temples or their local temples to offer prayers and witness the Rudra Abhisekham of Lord Shiva on this night.
- Maha Shivratri is celebrated in many different countries across the globe and not just in India.
- On Maha Shivratri Lord Shiva performed the “Rudra Tandav”. Once Sati’s father Daksh did a Mahayagya in which he did not invite Lord Shiva and his wife Sati, but being a daughter of Daksh, when Devi Sati and Lord Shiva reached Daksh’s place, he insulted them. Out of anger, Devi Sati burnt herself. This incident broke Lord Shiva and out of anger, he carried Devi Sati’s dead body on his shoulder and started doing “Rudra Tandava” which caused huge destruction’s in the universe.
- It is believed that on this particular day Lord Shiva gulped the Halahala produced during Samudra manthan and beheld it in his neck which bruised and turned blue, after which he was named as Neel Kanth. It is also believed that the famous Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is the place where this incident took place and saved the universe. Devotees stay up all night to give company to Lord Shiva, who was not supposed to sleep after drinking the ocean`s poison after Samudra Manthan.
- Maha Shivaratri is a National Holiday in Nepal and celebrated widely in temples all over the country, but especially in the Pashupatinath temple. Thousands of devotees visit the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham nearby as well. Holy rituals are performed all over the nation. Artists from various classical music and dance forms perform through the night.
- On Maha Shivaratri, married women pray for the well being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, considered as the ideal husband. Shiva is also worshipped as the Adi Guru (first teacher) from whom the divine wisdom originates.
- Hindus in Pakistan visit Shiva temples during Shivrathri. The most important is the three day Shivrathri festival in the Umarkot Shiv Mandir.It is one the biggest religious festivals in the country. It is attended by around 250,000 people.
- Maha Shivratri is also associated to dance and other art forms and has a special connection with ‘Nataraj’. Lord Shiva is also worshiped in the name of Nataraja. Natraja is the incarnation of Lord Shiva. It has its meaning in Sanskrit where ‘Nata’ means ‘dance’ and ‘Raja’ means ‘king’. As per the historical evidence the dance performed by Nataraja is also said as “Ananda Tandava” and “Rudra Tandav”. … WISHING YOU HAPPY MAHA SHIVRATRI