Maha Shivratri or simply Shivratri is an annual Hindu festival celebrated with great devotion. The Hindus all over the world observe a variety of rituals on this day. A huge influx of devotees can be seen at Shiva temples on this occasion and they spend the night there with prayers and chants.
The term Maha Shivratri literally means ‘Great Night of Shiva’. There are a lot of legends associated with observing this festival and the most popular one is that it is the day in which Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. Hence, Shivaratri is a commemoration of convergence of Shiva and Shakthi. Another legend associated with this day is that of Samudra Manthan in which Shiva saved the world by consuming the emerged poison and arresting it in his throat. The day in which Shiva manifested his great effulgent form – Jotirmaya or Jyotirlinga to Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, is another story associated with Maha Shivaratri. Some devotees also believe that Lord Shiva performed the cosmic dance ‘Tandava’ on the night of Shivratri.
When is Shivaratri 2019
Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Trayodashi or Chaturdashi (13th or 14th day of waning phase) of the Hindu month Phalguna which befalls on February or March in Gregorian calendar. Though the 14th day of every lunar month (the day before the new moon) is considered as Shivaratri, the one having the highest spiritual significance is the Maha Shivratri befalling at this time of the year. The MahaShivratri 2019 is on March 4. It is believed that, on the night of this auspicious occasion, the northern hemisphere of the Earth positions in a way that causes a natural upsurge of energy in us.
Why do we celebrate Shivratri
On Maha Shivratri, the religious practices including Yoga and meditation work more effectively and the benefits of mantras such as Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra increases. Those who strictly observe Shivratri fasting and other penances are believed to achieve Moksha or liberation. Maha Shivratri Puja, Vrat & Fast are so powerful that they help a person attain control over worldly pleasures and temptations. The material pleasures and temptations are forces that bother humans a lot. By worshipping Shiva and observing the fast for the entire Shivratri night, one can have control over the negative thoughts like anger, lust, greed etc.
Watch Maha Shivaratri Live Streaming – Coimbatore Isha Shiva Temple
On Maha Shivaratri, the Universe pushes us towards the spiritual peak; the planetary positions evoke the spiritual energies that help us rise to that level. The tradition of observing the festival night-long and staying awake is to allow this flow of energy to pass through our spine.
Maha Shivratri Puja, Vrat & other observances
The Maha Shivaratri observances include poojas, abhisheka, fasting and staying awake at night with prayers and meditations. Devotees observe fast on this day and keep awake all night, meditating or chanting prayers inside the temples. Some devotees observe strict fasting without even consuming water. Some people have food only once while some follow a fruit and milk diet. Devotees visiting Shiva temples give prayers, special pujas & offerings. Those who wish to stay awake may visit the temples and spend their night, chanting prayers or ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ mantra. Some devotees perform the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra too.
Abhisheka on Shivalinga is a major ritual on Maha Shivaratri. It is done using milk, honey, sugar, butter, black sesame seeds, Ganga Jal etc. After the abhisheka or bathing of Siva Linga, sandalwood paste and rice are applied and fresh fruits and flowers are offered. According to Shiva Purana, all these observations have certain meanings.
- Bathing Shivalinga with water, milk, honey and betel leaves marks purification of the soul.
- Applying vermillion or kumkum symbolizes virtue.
- Offering fruits indicates longevity and gratification of desires.
- The burning of incense symbolizes wealth.
- Lighting of lamps indicates the attainment of knowledge.
- Betel leaves signify satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra
ओम त्र्यंबकम याजमाहे
श्रीमती मुंशी ममृितत
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
Shiva is believed to be the Adi Guru from whom the divine knowledge originated. For the ascetics who consider Shiva as Adi Guru, Maha Shivratri is the night of stillness on which the lord became one with Mount Kailash. Shiva is also regarded as the Mahadev who is the supreme power, the destroyer as well as the most compassionate.
The modern science has reached a point which states ‘everything we see and experience as matter is different manifestations of one energy’. Maha Shivaratri gives a spiritual seeker the possibilities to understand his limitedness and to experience the omnipresent source of creation present in everyone. Yoga and meditation are indeed the paths to experience this omnipresent energy or oneness. The word Shiva actually means ‘that which is not’. The universe itself is a vast emptiness which holds and keeps the galaxies apart. This unbounded emptiness is what referred to as Shiva. Even modern science proves ‘everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing’.