Mahashivratri festival is celebrated on the 13th or 14th night of new moon i.e. Krishna Paksh in the Hindu month of phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February – March in the English Calendar. This festival is celebrated with several rituals, like strict fasting, chanting of mantras, praying with bael (Wood Apple) leaf, offering prayers and ritual bath to Shiva ling with Ganga holy water, milk, honey etc. Priests tie knot of marriage between Lord Shiva and Goddess Paarvati to indicate the night of their marriage.
Origin of Mahashivratri:
There are several legendary story associated with the origin of Shivaratri, according to Puranas the lingodbhav (लिंग उद्भव) of shadashiva (सदा शिव) happened during the mid night of mahashivratri that’s why devotees do the vigil during this night.
Once there was an intense conversation between Brahma and Lord Vishnu that, who is more superior? Just to stop this conversation devatas asked help of Lord Shiva and hence Lord Shiva appeared in the form of pillar of huge fire and asked both of them to find each ends to prove their supremacy. Brahma took the form of Swan and moved on the top direction and Lord Vishnu incarnated as Varaha and went inside the earth but they both failed to find the ends. However Lord Brahma while his journey found Ketaki flower and decided to show this flower as witness that he found the top. As Lord shiva is in-dweller so he recognized the lie and cursed Lord Brahma that he will never be preached, also he discarded ketaki flowder in his own worship. But devtas requested Lord Shiva to show his nirakar roop in the form of Linga and that huge fire transformed into Shiva Linga (which people can easily preach to get rid of troubles of their lives) on the same day of Shivratri, when lingodbhav happened hence Shivaratri is celebrated.
Another story of Mahashivratri, when Lord Shiva became Neelkanth (नीलकंठ) blue throated:
During the churning of ocean by Devatas (देवता) and Danavas (दानव) in search of Amrit (अमृत), a lethal poison i.e. (कालकूट) (हलाहल विष) came out of ocean, none of the devatas accepted it as it had the capacity to spread annihilation. Devatas ran for the help to Lord Shiva, Lord Shiva drank that poison and held it in his throat due to which his throat turned blue in colour but few drops of poison spilt on the earth giving birth to various poisonous flora-faunas. This incidence also happened on the same day of Shivaratri.
Once upon a time there was a bhil (hunter) named Gurudhruv, he went for hunting but didn’t found any prey. In search of prey he went deep inside the forest still didn’t found anything, suddenly he felt that it is difficult to go out of forest due to darkness and wild animals, so he took shelter of a tree bellow which there was a Shivalinga and he unknowingly preached lord shiva whole night sitting above the tree (wood apple tree) (by mistake he plucked their leaves and started throwing on shivlinga) . Next morning lord shiva appeared in front of him and gave him boon, as he did abhishek of lord shiva with 1000 of Beal leaves. Hence people offer beal leaves to appease lord shiva.
It is also said that on the same night of Shivaratri Lord shiva did Tandav, And it was the same night of Shivratri when Lord shiva got married to goddess Paarvati.
On the very day of Shivaratri people preach Lord shiva and goddess Paarvati to get rid of past sin and get blessed with Moksha (get rid of rebirth). Mostly people Chants Om namah shivay, Maha mritunjay mantras, Rudrashtak, Panchakshar mantra, Shiv Chalisha, Shiv tandav strotam, Shiv sahatra mantras , Shiv 12 jyotirlinga strotram, Lingastakam etc to appease Lord shiva. Devotees wakeup early and before sunrise take pious water Ganga bath, then they wear pure clothes and start pooja of Ganpati then Sun god, vishnu and then lord shiva and paarvati.
It is said that lord shiva need true bhakti and devotion nothing else can appease him except true devotion..so if any one wants to pacify Lord shiva then discard bitterness for others and spread love and happiness, learn to help others and spread purity and prosperity in others lives. Happy Shivratri… 🙂
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