Maha Shivratri is one of the predominant religious festivals celebrated by the Hindus. It is marked on the 13th and the 14th day of the month of Maagh. On this day, the worshipers of Lord Shiva extend their prayers to the destroyer of the universe.
Lord Shiva is characterized as a furious god with the ability to destroy the universe in order to recreate a better one. The third eye on his forehead is a symbol of destruction. It is believed that on Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva performed the tandav, the most furious form of dance, to cause destruction worldwide. However, his anger could not stand before Maa Parvati.
In the presence of Maa Parvati, he would transform into a true lover, turning a blind eye towards his destructive traits.
On this day, they perform the following functions:
Libation of Holy Liquids
Lord Shiv is represented by the shiva ling. Its often considered to be a phallic symbol that represents Lord Shiva's regenerative powers. The shiva ling, known to represent the universe, is often found in temples. The foremost duty of all followers is to bathe the shiva ling in milk, water and honey. After which, flowers are offered to the shiva ling. Once the shiva ling is cleansed, the believer revolves around it and take parikrama.
On this day, the follower's of Lord Shiva offer their prayers to all the gods- sun god, creator Lord Vishnu and destructor Lord Shiva. They decorate the puja thali with beal leaves, vermillion, fruits, incense sticks, lamp, and betel leaves that are indispensible to the process of puja. Along with that, they preform the Rudra-Abhishek, which is the strongest chant of Lord Shiva. It is believed that the rudra abhishek has the power to drive away all the evil forces around you and cleanse your soul. It is performed by many to attain moksha.
On this day, young girls and unmarried women observe fast. Although the notion of fasting may differ for all, however the intention behind the fasting remains the same. Lord Shiva was a devoted husband who loved his wife dearly. To seek a similar husband, unmarried women and young girls abandon food and water for a day and perform rigorous prayers to the almighty.
Bhang is considered to be Lord shiva's prasad for his followers. Thus, its customary for all his followers to consume thandai, a drink laced with bhang. Although alot of poeple have discontinued this practice, but the some are keeping this tradition alive.
A lot of people distribute sweets on this day to mark the onset of the celebratory mode. Sweetening of the mouth is considered to be an auspicious custom for the people of India. Hence, they walk out on the streets with sweets in hand and greet everyone with a mithai.
Thus, if you wish to be a part of the celebration, these are some of the things you can do.
With this, we wish you a very happy Shivratri!
(Written by Ishita Kapai)