India is a land of festivals. Every festival has a unique legend, set of beliefs, amazing facts, and a set of rituals and procedures which form the base of the festival. Every ritual that is performed during a festival holds a specific significance and has a benefit attached to it. Hinduism is one rich culture that forms a perfect example that comprises of many festivities and every Hindu festival has a unique set of rituals. For example, you have to light a ghee diya outside the main entrance of the door during Narak Chaturdasi as doing so will fill your house with positivity, and Lord Yama with bless you, keeping all negativity at bay.
Today, with this blog we are going to learn about some of the interesting and lesser-known facts about, one of the most celebrated and highly revered festivals in Hinduism which is ‘Maha Shivratri’. Lord Shiva is one of the primordial forces and one of the prime Lords worshipped in Hinduism. The festivities of Maha Shivratri are dedicated to venerating the Holy union of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati who are known to be the ultimate male and feminine energy forces that rule the universe.
Every year the festival of Maha Shivratri falls in the 11th month of the Hindu Festival calendar, which is in the month of Phalguna or Magha (February- March) on the 13th night and extends up to the 14th day. Lord Shiva is omnipresent and we all have learned about His divinity through ancient Holy Scriptures, devotional songs, storybooks, and more. But there are many lesser-known facts that need to be known by one and all, so let us read through a few more of the many facts.
- It is believed that the day Lord Shiva consummated His marriage with Goddess Parvati, this Holy union is celebrated as ‘Maha Shivratri’
- We all know that there is a Shivratri which falls on every lunisolar month according to the Hindu calendar but the Shivratri that falls in the month of February/ March in winter and before the onset of summers is known as ‘Maha Shivratri’ as on this day, divine energy is present in the surrounding and whatever one wishes for, manifests. Hence, it is known as Maha (Great) Shivratri (night of Lord Shiva)
- According to many legends, Lord Shiva performs the cosmic dance of creation, preservation, and destruction on this Holy night.
- As mentioned in the ancient Holy Scriptures, Guru Adiyogi’s Supreme Consciousness was awakened on this auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri. The state of being awakened is often referred to as the state of Nirvana or being immersed in ‘Shoonya’. It is a state where the yogi transcends parameters like causation, space, and time. Hence, on the night of Maha Shivratri, many sadhus and yogis meditate in order to attain transcendence.
- In the spiritual realm, Maha Shivratri is the potent time to get closer to your higher self and make a union of the Soul with the divinity.
- In Nepal, the event of Maha Shivratri falls under the list of National Holidays. Being a National Holiday, the occasion of Maha Shivratri is celebrated with great fervor and dedication by the people of Nepal across all the temples in the country. The festivities of Maha Shivratri are especially worth witnessing in the Pashupatinath temple. Various artists excelling in different forms of arts perform throughout the night at this temple displaying their art. Many devotees also visit the divine Shakti Peeth which is situated nearby and perform the Holy rituals throughout the night.
- Kashmiri pundits and the people following Shaivism celebrate Maha Shivratri with great enthusiasm and devotion. This auspicious festival is known as ‘Herath’ which is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Hararatri’ which means Night of Lord Shiva. The festival of Navratri is celebrated by the Kashmiri Hindus on the Trayodashi or on the 13th day of the Phalgun month. However, the Kashmiri Hindus do not celebrate this divine festival on the 14th day of Phalgun month which is also known as the Chaturdashi.
- According to an age-old belief, it was on this very day that Lord Shiva consumed the deadly Halahala which came out from the ocean during the churning. The Lord held this dangerous poison in His neck which resulted in making His throat blue and He came to be known as ‘Neelkanth’. According to a legend, the Neelkanth Mahadev temple is the one where Lord Shiva consumed the Halahala and saved mankind and the universe from destruction. Hence, devotees from all over the world visit the Neelkanth Mahadev Temple and perform night vigil by staying up all night and praying over the Lord.
- It is said that the mind-born sons of Goddess Mahadevi named Ramana and Vatuka Bhairava were born on this day
- Hindus in Pakistan visit Shiva sanctuaries during Shivratri. The most significant is the multi-day Shivratri celebration in the Umarkot Shiv Mandir. It is one of the greatest strict celebrations in the country. It is gone to by around 250,000 individuals.
- Maha Shivratri is additionally related to moving and other works of art and has an exceptional association with ‘Nataraj’. Natraja is a manifestation of Lord Shiva. It has its significance in Sanskrit where ‘Nata’ signifies ‘dance’ and ‘Raja’ signifies ‘lord’. The dance performed by Nataraja is called “Ananda Tandava” and “Rudra Tandava”.
- ● The significance of dance tradition to this festival has historical roots. Maha Shivaratri has served as a historic confluence of artists for annual dance festivals at major Hindu temples such as Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera, and Chidambaram. This event is called Natyanjali, literally “worship through dance”, at the Chidambaram temple which is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra.
- Maha Shivratri celebrates the union of Shiva and Shakti, the two greatest forces of the Universe. It is believed that Maha Shivratri is the favorite night of Lord Shiva. Devotees can get liberation from their sins if they take the name of Lord Shiva during this auspicious night. Devoted worship of Lord Shiva on this night also helps one achieve success and prosperity and drives away evil spirits.
- Nishita Kala or when Lord Shiva appeared as Shiva Lingam on earth is the main time for Shiva puja. Washing the Shivalinga is performed utilizing milk, honey, sugar, butter, dark sesame seeds, Ganga Jal, and so forth. After this, sandalwood glue and rice are applied on Shivalinga and new products of the soil are advertised.
- As per another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. A huge number of individuals visit the 12 Jyotirlinga Shiva sanctuaries or their neighborhood sanctuaries to offer supplications and witness the Rudra Abhisekham of Lord Shiva on this evening. The Shiva Panchakshari Mantra, Om Namah Shivaya is recited by aficionados alongside His various names. It is a unique night for unmarried ladies, who pray for a spouse like Lord Shiva.
- According to a legend, there once lived a hunter who had killed many birds and animals in the forest. He was once chased by a ferocious Lion and the hunter in order to safeguard himself from being the prey of the beast, climbed upon a tree. The whole day he sat on the tree and the lion too sat below the tree for the hunter to come down. At night, in order to stay awake, the hunter started plucking the leaves of the tree and throwing them down. Below the tree was a Shiva linga, unknowingly all the leaves fell on it. They were no ordinary leaves, they were the leaves of Bilva. Despite all the wrong actions of the hunter, the act of offering Bilva leaves on Shiv Linga appeased Lord Shiva and the Lord saved him from the Lion, granting him long life. Hence, devotees offer Bilva leaves on the Shiv Linga
- According to another legend, Brahma and Vishnu once got into an argument. Each of them stated that they are the Supreme energy and boasted about their powers. This is when Lord Shiva took the form of a huge pillar of fire. Astonished, by this blazing pillar both Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma were perplexed. None of them knew where it appeared from. This huge pillar had no beginning and no end. Both the Lords decided to find out the starting point and ending point or the base of this pillar. Both Brahma and Vishnu couldn’t find it. Thus, we learn that Lord Shiva is the Supreme Lord. It is believed that this huge stambha (pillar) appeared on the fortnight of Phalguna. And hence, this day is celebrated as Maha Shivratri.
- According to an old belief, any person who offers prayers to the Shiv Linga on the Maha Shivratri is blessed with happiness and abundance. All his/ her tensions are eased and all the hurdles that come in the devotee’s path to growth and success are removed.
- The city of Mandi is mainly prestigious as a scene for Maha Shivaratri merriments. Tourists and devotees crowd the city of Mandi during Shivratri. Mandi, organized at the banks of Beas, is predominantly referred to as the “Congregation running of Temples”. There are around 81 sanctuaries of 200 different gods in the city and it is said that all these deities visit the Shiv Mandir on Maha Shivratri.
- There are 12 Shivratris in the year. Out of these 12 Shivratri, the Mahashivratri is considered to be the most fruitful and powerful Shivratris as during this time the energies of the divine are present on the planet and a devotee who offers prayers with true devotion is blessed abundantly by the Lord and his/her wishes are fulfilled.
- Many Shiv bhaktas pay homage to the 12 Jyotirlinga and perform Rudra Abhisekham of Lord Shiva in this nighttime.
- Maha Shivratri is no more only a national festival but it is celebrated in equal fervor and with deep devotion all across the globe by people of various ethnicities.
There are many such interesting facts, that the night of Maha Shivratri holds. Hope this article gave you some idea of the lesser-known facts and the significance of Maha Shivratri.