Maha shivaratri is observed by the pious hindu populous of the sub- continent with great fervour. With many legends surrounding this day, the devotees offer their puja to the shiva linga after a day’s fast for attaining Moksha and shedding of their past sins.
Maha Shivaratri translates to “the great night of the shiva”. It is celebrated by Hindus all across India and Nepal. On the new moon day of the month of Maagh, Hindus hold the maha shivaratri celebrations to venerate the lord of destruction, Shiva. On this pious day unmarried Hindu women buy maha Shivaratri puja samagri and offer their puja to the lord for a prospective partner. Married women do the same to ask for a prosperous life for their husbands.
The legends surrounding it
There are many legends surrounding this pious day. Here are some of the ones that is still prevalent today
- A popular legend tells the story of a hunter who was waiting patiently atop a Woodapple tree for a deer. In order to attract the deer, the hunter started dropping leaves of the tree down on the ground. He did not notice that there was a shiva linga below him at the base of the tree. Lord Shiva was very pleased with him for dropping the leaves on the linga. He appeared in-front of him in person and blessed him. It is said that after that day the hunter gave up hunting and became a vegetarian.
- Another popular legend tells the story of a conversation between Parvati and Shiva. It is said that Parvati asked Shiva what his favourite day is and he replied that it is day we come to celebrate as Maha- Shivaratri.
- Once the earth was faced with imminent destruction and Parvati had asked her husband Lord Shiva to come in aid of this world. He said that he would save the world under one pre context. The people of the world needed to worship him. From that day it is said that we celebrate Maha shivaratri in praise of the saviour Lord Shiva.
The Rituals that are Followed
The pious devotees of lord Shiva observe this day with many rituals and with much fervour. People keep a fast on this day and only take a sip of water after offering puja to the shiva linga. It is said that fasting on this day and offering puja to shiva linga washes away your past sins and help you attain Moksha.
- The morning rituals – On the day of the shivaratri, devotees wake up at the crack of dawn and take a bath in the holy ganges and offer their prayers to the sun god, Vishnu and Shiva as a part of the purification rite observed in any Hindu festival. Then they throng to the shiva temples to offer the puja. People circumscribe the Shiva linga and pour either milk or water over the shiva linga. They sound the temple bells and chant in the name of the Lord.
- The ritual bathing of the Shiva linga – On this auspicious day of the Maha Shivaratri, the Shiva linga is bathed with milk and honey. Bel leaves are offered as puja. Some people also offer beetle leaves. After this vermillion paste is applied on the shiva linga.. This is believed to have a cooling effect on the hot tempered god.
- The rituals through the night – On the night of shivaratri, the temples light up withcolourful lights and devotees sing hymns and praises in the name of the lord. A favourite of Lord Shiva, Ganja is consumed by devotees with great fervour all throughout the night.
Shivaratri is an auspicious hindu festival. People can buy puja samagri at reasonable prices and offer their puja to the lord on this day for blessings and for attaining Moksha.