Mahashivaratri Festival or the ‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February – March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.
Mahashivaratri is thus not only a ritual but also a cosmic definition of the Hindu universe. It dispels ignorance, emanates the light of knowledge, makes one aware of the universe, ushers in the spring after the cold and dry winter, and invokes the supreme power to take cognizance of the beings that were created by him.
Who is Lord Shiva
Shiva means auspicious one. He is one among Trimurti Gods: Brahma, Bishnu and Maheswor. Shiva is Maheshwor. Lord Shiva is regarded as creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer,
He lives in Himalaya at the Northern side of Nepal at mount Kailash and lives as a saint (sadhu) with snake around his neck, wear deer skin and sits on tiger’s skin. Damaru is his musical instrument and Trisul is his weapon.
Shiva wears rudraksha on his neck and his hair is home of the holly Ganga. Nandi (ox) is his vehicle. He is a great mediator and he notices everything that happens in the world. He is very kind to his devotees. Just chanting of “Om Namaha Sibhaya” relives anyone from sufferings.
Shiva’s first wife was Satidevi and he married Parvati as his second wife. Ganesh and Kumar are his sons.
Legends of Mahashivratri
There are various interesting legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Some believe that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri – the grand night of Shiva.
Traditions and Customs of Shivaratri
Devotees observe strict fast in honor of Shiva, though many go on a diet of fruits and milk some do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. While married women pray for the well being of their husbands unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband.
To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc.
On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. Every three hours priests perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the chanting of â€œOm Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where large number of devotees spend the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by partaking prasad offered to the deity.
There is always a big fair and market set around Pashupati temple area in Shiva Ratri. Large number of people are seen visiting the temple. People are seen buying things. Announcements, music, dances, sadhus, markets, and large number of tourist make Shivaratri more fun. Women and kids are seen putting mehendi on their hands Mehandi (Heena) by the local artists sitting on the pavements. Snake dance, circus and other fun activities can also be seen in the surrounding areas of Pashupati temple.
There are many stories behind the celebration of Shivaratri.
During Samundra Manthan, the poison Halahal came out of the ocean. It started creating destruction all over. To protect the universe from the devastation Lord Shiva drank the poison and managed to keep it in his throat. His throat turned blue. Since then he is known as Nilkantha. Nila Kantha in Sanskrit is one with blue throat.
Shiva protected the world from the dangerous poison; therefore, people started celebrating the day as Shivaratri and thanking Shiva for shaving the world.
It is believed Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati on this day. Some places, Shivaratri is observed as marriage anniversary of Shiva-Parvati too.
How is Maha Shivaratri celebrated
Shiva devotees observe whole day and night fasting. Shiva Linga pooja is done in the night by chanting mantras, offering Beal leaf and pouring water on the linga. Fireplace is set in avenues and in temples at night to make Lord Shiva warm.
Pashupatinath is the biggest temple of lord shiva In Nepal. In Shivaratri Pashupatinatha temple has a big possession. Hindu devotees from all over Nepal and India visit Pashupatinath. Large number of Shadus come to Pashupatinath. Different types of Shadus can be seen around Pashapupati and its surroundings.
The shadus are covered with bhibhuti (Ashes). The Shadhus are said to have mastered the pain of heat, cold and sufferings and have devoted their life to Lord Shiva. They stand naked blessing the devotees. They smoke weeds as a divine gift of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is the one who enjoys taking bhis(Poison), bhang, Dhatooro (jimson Weeds).
According to the Shiva Puran, six items are regarded precious to worship and offer Lord Shiva in Maha Shivaratri.
The six Items are Beal fruit, Vermilion Paste (Chandan), Food Items (Prasad), Incense, Lamp (Diyo), Betel Leaves.
1) Beal Leaf (Marmelos leaf) – offering of Beal Leaf represents purification of the soul.
2) Vermilion paste (Chandan) – Applying chandan on Shiva Linga after washing the Linga represents good feature. Chandan is inseparable part of Worshipping Lord Shiva.
3) Food items – Food items such as rice and fruits are offered to the Lord to ensure a long life and fulfillment of desires.
4) Incense (Dhoop batti) – Incense sticks are lit before Lord Shiva to be blessed with wealth and prosperity.
5) Lamp (Diyo) – The lighting of Cotton handmade batti , lamp or diyo is believed to be helpful to gain knowledge.
6) Betel leaves (Paan ko patta) – Beatle leaves or Pan ko pat represents satisfaction with maturity.
Shiva Puran states, the beat of Damaru revealed the first seven letters of music. Those notes are source of language too. Shiva is inventor of notes of music Sa, Re, Ga, Ma Pa, Dha, Ni. He is worshiped as inventor of language on his birthday too.
The Shiva linga is washed with Pancha kavya (mixture of five products of cow) and Panchamatrit (mixture of five sweet things). Pancha kavya includes cow dung, cow urine, milk, Curd and Ghee. Panchamrit includes Cow milk, Yogurt, Honey, Sugar and Ghee.
In front of the Shiva Linga Kalash (Medium size vessel with small neck) filled with mixed water and milk is set. The neck of the Kalash is tied with white and red piece of cloth. Flower, mango leaves, peeple leaves, beal leaves are kept inside the kalash. Mantras are chanted to worship Lord Shiva.
(Information are gathered from various sources.)
There is a reason Shiva is called ‘The Devo ke Dev-Mahadev‘ or supreme God. The calm-looking lord can turn into a destroyer, and can also be a bholenath. He has multiple shades to his personality, and is one god who can truly teach us the wisdom to live life. Take a look at 7 lessons we can learn from him.
Don’t Stand Injustice
Lord Shiva was known as the destroyer of evil. He couldn’t tolerate injustice and destroyed the evil rakshasas in a fair manner. Similarly, even we should try to keep zero tolerance for the evil happening around us and take a stand against injustice.
Self-control is the key to living life to the fullest
An hysterical mind can lead you to live a devastating life. You cannot win battles when you lose focus and fall prey to your desires and addictions. Therefore, it’s necessary to keep your mind aligned to your goals and heart too.
Keep calm and carry on
Shiva was called a ‘Maha Yogi’ because he meditated for hours for the well-being of the universe. Thus highlighting the fact that you can win half the battle just by being calm in a stressful situation. It’s really the best strategy to sorting out a problem.
Materialistic happiness never stays for long
Take a look at Shiva’s attire for a second. Only armed with a trishul and damru, Lord Shiva always stayed away from wealth Because materialistic happiness is temporary. You need to find your happiness in events and experiences, and not things.
You must learn how to suppress negativity gracefully
Shiva was a ‘neelkanth’ because he swallowed poison named ‘halahala’, that emerged from the ocean. Only Shiva could have consumed this poison and suppressed it in his throat. The important lesson to take back from this incident is to take negativity in our stride, and turn it into positivity.
Desires lead to obsessions and obsessions lead to destruction
Since he was free from desires, Shiva never obsessed over things. It is a fact that desires always lead to obsessions, and these in turn make us self-destructive.
Respect your better half
Shiva was ‘Ardhanarishwar’, where half of him was Parvati. He treated Parvati with utmost respect and care. She was his ‘shakti’ and he gave her the importance she deserved.
Shravan falls on the fifth month of the Hindu calendar. This month is considered to be the holiest month of the year as many religious festivals and ceremonies fall in this month.This month is dedicated to the worship and reverence of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe fasts during Shravan Month to please Lord Shiva.
Monday is the special day for Lord Shiva. That is why; every Monday that comes in the month of Shravan is extremely auspicious. On the Shravan Somvars, women fast and do puja of Lord Shiva. Shravan Somvar is very important for the devotees of Lord Shiva’s. On this special day, devotees show their respect by observing a fast from sunrise to sunset. The fasts done on Monday are known as Shravan Somwar Vrat. It is believed that by observing Sravan Somvar Vrat all desires gets fulfilled. It is believed that if unmarried women keep fast on Mondays of the month they would get a good husband.
Rules to be observed during Shrawan Month
The following practices are strictly followed by many during Shravan:
- Using Rudraksh mala for Japa or meditation.
- Offering Lord Shiva bhibuthi and applying some on the forehead.
- Making offerings of bel leaves, panchamrut to lord Shiva.
- Performing fast on mondays to seek the blessings of lord Shiva. It is strongly believed that, if women fast on all mondays in Shrawan month, they will be blessed with a good husband.
- Reciting Shiva Chalis and offer aarti.
Lord Shiva is considered as supreme God in hindu mythology and is worhipped throughout Nepal and India.We all are familiar with das avatar of Lord Bishnu but very few know about the avatar of lord Shiva.The main motive of avatar is to destry the evilness and kill the demon in ordwe to protect innocent people of Earth.There are 19 incarnation of Lord Shiva, however we here present 10 avatars of Him.
The 10 incarnations or avatar of Lord Shiva are as follow:
In this form he is said to be in bull faced with a body much like his hallowed shiva but with four hands.There are some temples which are exclusively built for Shiva.
This avatar was formed when he was in deep grive due to the demise of Sati his wife.He is believed to be a destroyer and he was dark as a clould with three eyes and wore garland of skill and carried dangerous weapon.
This avatar is also known as kaal bhairab and it is the fierce manifestation of lord shiva associated in annihilation.
It is avatar of lord shiva who was born during mahabharat period as a son of Dronacharya.
It is avatar in which shiva appears to be half lion and half bird who has a eight leg and is mighter than lion and elephant.This form is trolled to usher good luck and kill all the enemies.
Vishwanar was a Brahmin who wanted a son just like shiva and he devoted hs whole life to worship shiva. Lord Shiva was pleased and hence was born as Gripati.
He had taken this avatar to maintain discipline in universe.
Lord shiva had taken this incarnation in ramayan period to help Lord Ram.
This avatar was taken to kill the demon from patal lok who were the sons of Lord Bishnu.