MAHA SHIVRATRI Festival in India
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Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival that is widely celebrated in India, devoted to Lord Shiva. The word “Maha Shivratri” means “the great night of Lord Shiva”. As per the Hindu calendar, this holy festival is celebrated on new moon day in the month of Maagh. Maha Shivratri falls on 24-Feb-2017 of this month. Lord Shiva is one of the most important and venerated deity in Hinduism.
Legends associated with Maha Shivratri
There are numerous mythological legends that are associated with Maha Shivratri. One of the most popular legend states: Once upon a time there was a hunter who could not find any animal to kill and was desperate for food. So, he mounted a Woodapple tree in a forest and sat on its branch. Long time passed by; the night seemed like ages. To pass the time and to trap the deer, he absent-mindedly started throwing tree leaves on ground. Little did he know that all his leaves were falling upon a Shiva Linga that was just below the tree. The day was new moon; the fall of Woodapple leaves became symbolic of his (unknowing) veneration that pleased Lord Shiva. The deity manifested before the hunter and blessed him with wisdom that purified the hunter’s mind of all lower thoughts. Thus began the celebration of Maha Shivratri.
The most renowned Maha Shivratri celebrations take place in Ujjain, which is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Multiple processions carrying the idol of Lord Shiva are carried out all throughout the city. People march the streets hailing Lord shiva, dancing and merrying around. All night people celebrate in temples and they pour large quantity of milk upon Shiva Linga and sing bhajans in temple.
Maha Shivrarti Fast
In Hindu mythology, Shivaratri Fast is believed to be the most important fast for the devotees of Lord Shiva. It is stated in Shiva Purana (the holy scripture of Lord Shiva) that if a devotee observes fast on Maha Shivratri with the utmost sincerity, pure devotion and love, Lord Shiva blesses him or her.
Merits of Maha Shivratri Fast
According to Hindu mythology, the devotion of Shiva helps devotees conquer the two great natural forces that afflict human nature. They are tamas (inertia) and rajas (passion). He who is free from the fire of passion and poisoning inertia is in full control of himself. Rajas guna gives birth to anger, lust, jealousy and fear, whereas tamas guna gives birth to laziness, inactivity and helplessness. When a devotee surrenders himself to Lord Shiva and venerates him all night of Maha Shivratri with pure devotion and love, he is blessed by the deity and gradually brings about a balance within himself that conquers all evils of human nature.
What does Shiva Purana state?
The holy Hindu scripture Shiva Purana states that the boons of observing Maha Shivratri fast equals the boons of performing an Ashwamedha Yagna. The scripture also claims that devotees who transcend beyond this world while observing Maha Shivratri are absolved off all sins and are blessed with divine wisdom. Such devotees are also freed from the endless circle of birth and death. What could be the bigger boon than that to be freed from an endless winding circle of karma!
Customs and Traditions of Maha Shivratri Fast
There is a certain discipline that goes with observing Maha Shivratri though. It has been noticed by many wise men, tantra Sadhaks and devout devotees of Lord Shiva that over the past years there has been set a trend in the times of Maha Shivratri. The festival is celebrated with great pomp and show rather than in quiet contemplation.
Maha Shivratri Facts
There are some startling facts linked with Maha Shivratri fast, how to observe this fast and what to abstain from. In this video our Expert Astrologer Rama Shankar Upadhyay ji talks about many such truths and gives suggestions on how to observe this holy fast so as to get blessings from Lord Shiva.
Om Namah Shivaya
May the Lord Shiva bless thy soul!