Maha Shivratri hold special significance in Hindu religion. Maha Shivratri means 'great night of Shiva'. The festival is mainly celebrated in India and in Nepal. On new moon day in the month of Maagha, the festival is celebrated. Mahashivratri will be celebrated on February 24 this year.
Maha Shivratri is observed to venerate Lord Shiva, who holds special importance in Hindu culture.
On this holy day, devotees fast and chant shlokas to get rid of their sins. Devotees perform traditional puja by offering milk, water, bel leaves and fruits to the Shiva Linga and chant ‘Shivji Ki Jai’. Mahashivratri is a festival of the union of two main powers, Lord Shiva and Shakti. According to the Hindu calendar, it is said that the Chaturdashi Tithi that takes place during the Krishna Paksha in the Magha month is known as Mahashivratri.
Why it is celebrated?
Various mythological legends are associated with this day. According to a famous legend, once upon a time when a hunter could not find anything to kill for his food in a deep forest, he waited on the branch of a Woodapple tree. Seeking to attract deer, he began throwing the tree leaves. He was unaware that there was a Shiva Lingam beneath the tree.
Lord Shiva was pleased with the Woodapple leaves and the patience of the hunter. Then Lord Shiva appeared in front of the hunter and blessed him with wisdom. The hunter stopped eating meat after this incidence.
Another legend has it that after the Earth was faced with an imminent destruction, Goddess Parvati took a pledge with Lord Shiva to save the world. Pleased with her prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to save the world on the pretext that the people of the Earth would have to worship him with dedication and passion. From that day onwards, the night came to be known as Maha Shivratri and people began worshipping Shiva.
Some folklore also consider this to be Shiva's day as this was believed to be the answer given by Lord Shiva when asked about his favorite day by Goddess Parvati.
People often fast on the night of Shivratri and sing hymns and praises in the name of Lord Shiva. 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.
It is believed that the people who fast on this night and offer prayers to Lord Shiva bring good luck into their life.
The most popular Maha Shivratri celebrations take place in Ujjain, believed to be the place of residence of Lord Shiva. Large processions are carried out throughout the city, with people thronging the streets to catch a view of the revered idol of Lord Shiva.