Maha Shivratri, “The Great Night of Shiva” is the most significant event in India’s spiritual calendar.
Maha-Shivratri, the most important sectarian festival of the year for devotees of the Lord Shiva, whose eyes are considered as Rudraksha. The 14th day of the dark half of each lunar month is specially sacred to Shiva, it is a day of particular rejoicing. The next day the participant performs fasting and Jagaaran during which a special worship of the Shiva ling (symbol of Shiva) is performed. The following day is celebrated with feasting, festival fairs.
Maha Shivratri is the most specific Hindu festival that celebrates the convergence of Lord Shiva and Goddess shakti. This festival is observed by remembering Lord Shiva and chanting mantras, offering prayers and fasting. Devotees of Lord Shiva awake all night chanting mantras and prayers. Maha Shivratri exactly means " The Great Night of Shiva ". It is said that Maha Shivratri is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, Preservation and destruction.
Maha Shivaratri celebrations include - Jaagaran all-night vigil and Prayers, offering fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Lord Shiva, fasting with Vedic worship of Lord Shiva etc. Devotees recite "Om Namah Shivaya" mantra to praise Lord Shiva.
This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. To make use of this tradition, we established a certain festival which is nightlong. 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.
Maha Shivratri is very special for people who are interested in reaching divinity. It is also very important for people who are facing troubles in family situations, and also for the people who are ambitious in the world. People who live in family situations observe Maha Shivratri as Shiva’s wedding anniversary.
In the ascetics point of view, it is the day he became one with Mount Kailash. He became like a mountain. In the Vedic tradition, Shiva is not only worshipped as a God, but also considered as the Adi Guru, the first Guru from whom the science of Yoga originated. After many millennia in meditation, one day he became absolutely mountain. That day is Maha Shivratri.
There is an unknown and great energy that drives all of us. Saints have called this unknown energy Shiva.
SHIVA is the energy that lives within everyone. Our daily routine and lifetime activities are acts and plans of Shiva. This energy not only drives living beings, but also resides in non-living things - as their energy. Shiva, thus, drives existence.
Maha Shivratri is a festival to remember and to take our awareness to the basis of our existence: Shiva.
There are many stories of Mahashivaratri surrounding this occasion. Here are a few:
1.First of all is that Lord Shiva married Parvati on this day. Hence, it is a celebration of this sacred union.
2.Another is that when the Gods and demons churned the ocean together to obtain ambrosia that lay in its depths, a pot of poison emerged. Lord Shiva took this poison to save both the Gods and mankind. The poison stored in the Lord’s throat, turned him blue. On this Occasion, Shivratri is celebrated.
3.One more story is that as Goddess Ganga descended from heaven in full force, Lord Shiva caught her in his matted locks, and released her on to Earth as several streams. This prevented destruction on Earth. As a tribute to Him, the Shiva ling is bathed on this auspicious night.
4.Also, it is believed that the formless God Sadashiv appeared in the form of a Lingodhbhav Moorthy at midnight. Hence, people perform jagaran all night offering prayers to God.
CELEBRATING MAHASHIVA RATRI:-
Mahashivaratri is the day to honor and celebrate Lord Shiva—honor life and celebrate existence. Most people spend the day of Mahashivaratri in prayer, meditation and celebration. Here are a few activities that participate on the festival day.
- Fasting on Mahashivaratri
Fasting detoxifies the body and curtails the restlessness of the mind. A mind which is tired of daily chaos slips into meditation easily. Therefore, fasting on Mahashivaratri serves to detoxify the body and aid meditation. It is recommended to do fasting only if you are capable of doing so.
- Meditation on Mahashivaratri
The position of the Sun and Moon on the night of Mahashivaratri is very auspicious for meditation. So, it is advisable to do meditation on Shivaratri.
In ancient times, people used to suggest meditation on this one day, as it is impossible to do everyday.
- Chanting Mantra
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the perfect mantra to chant using Rudraksha on Mahashivaratri, as it immediately elevates your energy.
- ‘Om’, refers to the sound of the universe. It means peace and love. The five combinations, ‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Va’, ‘Ya’ in ‘Namah Shivaya’ indicate the five elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.
- Chanting OM NAMAH SHIVAYA harmonizes the five elements of the universe. When there is peace, love and harmony in all the five elements, then there is bliss and joy.
- Mahashivaratri puja
Rudra Puja or Mahashivaratri Puja is an important ceremony performed to honor Lord Shiva on this day. It involves chanting special Vedic mantras accompanied by certain rituals. Rudra Puja keeps us positive and pure to the environment, and reduces negative emotions. Participating in the Puja helps the mind slip into meditation effortlessly.
- Worshipping Shiva linga
The Shivalinga is a symbolic representation of the formless Shiva. Worshipping the Shiva ling includes offering Bel Patra (leaves of the bel tree) to it. Offering ‘Bel Patra’ is coming from ancient times, it represents three aspects of your being - rajas ( responsible for activity), tamas (the inertia) and sattva ( positivity, peace, and creativity). These three aspects balance your mind and actions in life. Surrendering all the three to the Divine brings you peace and freedom.