Hindus across the world will soon celebrating the festival of Maha Shivaratri. This is a major event in the religious calendar and it is celebrated in Monday, March 4, 2019. Before preparing your Indian evisa to attend this festival, let seen how well do you know about Maha Shivaratri.
The legends about Maha Shivaratri
Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. There are many mythological legends associated with this day:
- When the demons - Asuras and the Gods joined hands to churn out Amrut from the depths of the ocean, using a mountain and a snake as a rope. Among the things that came out, was a pot of poison. This poison was so potent that it had the power to destroy the whole universe. When they realized what they had done, all the Gods and Demons ran in different directions to save themselves as none among them had the power to stop the spreading poison. On the request of the Gods, Lord Shiva went to the spot and drank the poison. His wife Goddess Parvati tightened a noose over the neck of the Lord and managed to stop the poison from entering his body below the neck. His face and neck turned blue because of poison.
- Some folklore also consider that Shiva simply named this as his favourite day when asked by the goddess Parvati.
- Another popular story says that a hunter was unable to find anything to kill for his food in a forest and so decided to wait in a woodapple tree. He started throwing down leaves in the hope they would attract deer but was unaware there was a sacred worshipping place to Shiva beneath the tree.The god himself appeared and blessed the hunter with wisdom for his patience. From that day, the hunter stopped eating meat.
- This day is also believed that Shiva is said to have saved the world from destruction on condition that the people of the Earth worshipped him with dedication and passion.
What to expect during Shivaratri
The Maha Shivaratri is held at night which is celebrated by people following Hinduism in India. Extensive singing hymns and praises in the name of Lord Shiva and dancing take place to enable people to stay awake all night.
People often fast on the night of Shivratri while some Hindus abstain from food for the whole day, others allow themselves one meal.
Hindu temples across the country are decorated with lights and colorful decorations and people can be seen offering night long prayers to Shiva Lingam.
Woodapple leaves, cold water and milk are offered to the Shiva Lingam on this day as they are believed to be Lord Shiva's favorite. Hindus then offer fruits and flowers which are given in hopes of obtaining a long life and satisfaction of desires.
People cluster around Shiva temples and after bathing, smear their bodies with holy ashes and keep reciting prayers to Lord Shiva. Burning enrage yields wealth is an important step. The lighting with diya represents achieving more knowledge - offering betel leaves provides real satisfaction.
Every worshiper brings a pot full of holy water to the temple to offer the Shivalingam. Women pray to God for her well-being of their husbands and sons, an unmarried woman pray to get their desired husband like Shiva in future; boys pray to get beautiful wife and successful life in future. The temple full of sound of bells and people shouts of “Shankerji ki Jai” or “Mahadevji ki Jai”. Devotees take five rounds of the Shivalingam and pour water on the Shivalingam. Some also pour cow milk on the Shivalingam.
(Picture by Ashok Saravanan .Ay)
How about the costumes?
Hindus wear garland made up of the Rudraksha, while worshiping the Lord Shiva. Women are encouraged to wear saris or ankle-length skirts and men are asked to dress smartly or wear a dhoti, and kurta.
Worshipers also apply three horizontal lines of holy ash on their forehead which represents spiritual knowledge, cleanliness and penance. It is believed that the Rudraksha tree was originated from the tears of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is also considered as the wedding day of the Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati.
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