Celebration of Maha Shivratri In India
India is the land of numerous religious festivals. The Hindus celebrate Maha Shivaratri, which is one of the important festivals. Shivaratri meaning, ‘night of Lord Shiva’ and Maha Shivaratri meaning, ‘the great night of Lord Shiva’. A festival completely dedicated to honouring, worshipping, expressing gratitude to the divine Lord Shiva. This is the only festival which is celebrated at night, when the night seems as alive as a day with the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya”, the temple bells ringing through the night, the devotees ardently praying and worshipping the Lord with faith and trust in their heart.
Lord Shiva is revered and invoked by Hindus across the world. He is the supreme power who has no form, He is infinite. Shiva means ‘the auspicious one’, who is hailed by many names like Mahadev, Shambhu, Bholenath etc.
As per the Hindu (Vedic) calendar, Shivratri falls every month on the 14thday. The Shivratri inPhalgun (February-March) is celebrated as Mahashivratri.
Shivratri kyu manate hai? Or why is Maha Shivratri / Shivratri celebrated?
This can find its answer in the Shivaratri story, which has quite a few versions.
The most commonly believed Maha Shivaratri story is that on this day Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati (Shakti) married each other. To celebrate this Divine union of Shiva and Shakti this auspicious day is celebrated.
The second legend relates to Samudra Manthanfeaturing howLord Shiva saved the earth and all living entries on this night by taking in the poison Halahala that emerged from”Samudra Mathan” (churning of the Milk Ocean). The poison was so potent that it would have destroyed the whole of creation. Not understanding what to do, the Gods of the Divine world approached Lord Shiva. Understanding the gravity of the situation, Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in His throat. By such a marvellous act of benevolence, Shiva saved each and every living being. By consuming the poison, His throat became. Hence, he earned the title of Neelkantha (the Blue throated one). Mahashivratri is celebrated to mark Shiva’s compassion for all the living beings.
Another legend of this festivalis associated with the cosmic dance of Shiva. Lord Shiva had performed the Tandava Nritya on this night. It was the dance of universal functions like creation, preservation and destruction.
Shiva Purana mentions that Lord Vishnu (the preserver) and Lord Brahma (the creator), battled to prove Their power over each other. Knowing that this would lead to dire consequences, they asked Lord Shiva to intervene. Pleased by their request, Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Ling as a luminous ray. Astounded by the light, Lord Brahma and Vishnu made several attempts to find both ends of this Linga. Seeing their failure to do so, Lord Shiva appeared from the light. He made them realize their power stemmed from His and three of them in a sense were equally powerful since three of them are the One.It was this day this event took place on the fourteenth day of Phalgun and later on was called Mahashivratri.
Maha Shivratri is the night full of divine energies. And one must take advantage of this auspicious festival. Lord Shiva Himself mentions in the Shiva Purana that anything in devotional relation to Him quickly fructifies.Devotees keep fast, worship Shiva Linga, perform Shiva Pujas and Abhisheks, chant His holy names day and night, meditate on Him and engage in activities that keep them close to Shiva. Anyone irrespective of their background can approach Shiva and please Him through even a little service.
Maha Shivratri is offers an opportune time for the married and unmarried women to express their desire in front of Lord Shiva. Married women pray for the longer life of their husbands and the unmarried for a suitable partner.
Seekers and yogis meditate for hours and through the night.
Mahashivratri Sadhana – The meaning of the word Sadhana means a dedicated practice done with a certain goal in mind. The position of the constellations on the night of Maha Shivratri is considered very auspicious for meditation, there is an upsurge in energy vibrations. So, it is advisable for people to keep awake and meditate on Maha Shivratri. Many believe that even if one does not meditate through the year, this night is a must for meditation. It is an apt night for spiritual growth, of tremendous possibilities. Lord Shiva is the one who helps to grow spiritually, to get in touch with one’s real self. Spiritual seekers and Sadhaks look forward to this night to attain spiritual ascension. With focused intension they stay awake all night, sit for hours with their spine erect, for the Kundalini (Shakti) to flow and go into deep meditation. Some Sadhaks start preparing days ahead of this auspicious power packed night by practicing special Yoga, breathing exercises/ Pranayam, adhering to a light diet, chanting of specific mantras etc., so that they can take maximum advantage of the high energies to connect with the divine and travel in the journey of spiritual progression on Maha Shivratri. It is an apt night to soak in the Shiva energies and be still, calm in mind, focus and just be.
Mantras have immense power. The most popular Maha Shivaratri mantra is Om Namah Shivaya(Shiva Mantra) associated with good health, prosperity and for removal of fear. One can also chant a death-conquering mantra called Mahamritunjaya mantra best for long and healthy life. There are other mantras like Om Namo Bhagwate Rudraay andthe Sri Rudram.
An important aspect of the festival is the Shivratri fast or Shivratri Vrat. The devotees who fast during this festivalattain fulfilment of their wishes. While many devotees choose to observe fast without water, it is recommended to fast with fruits and water, or small quantities of easily digestible food to keep the body light. Some devotees observe full fasting and the other option is to stay on fruits, milk and waterthroughout the day but have nothing after sunset until morning.
Some devotees whose bodies are not suitable for fasting can eat small quantities of easily digestible food to keep the body light. The food should not comprise pulses, rice, wheat, and table salt. Instead of table salt, rock salt should be used. Some Maha Shivaratri fasting food are:-
- Sabudana Khichdi or Tapioca Khichdi
- Kuttu puri or Buckwheat unleavened deep-fried bread
- Singhara Halwa or Halwa made from Water Chestnut flour
- Sama ke Chawal or Barnyard Millet
- Pumpkin soup with rock salt
- Aloo (Potato) tikki, Aloo Kichdi
Breaking of the fast is done with first having the Prasad which was offered to Lord Shiva.
On this day devotees organize Maha Shivaratri special stage performances of dancing and singing. Artists join such performances and sing Shivratri special bhajans dedicated to Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is fond of dancing and music, so devotees try to please Him in this way. As devotees are in a joyous, celebratory mood,greetings of ‘Happy Maha Shivaratri’ are exchanged between devotees.
Maha Shivratri kab ki hai?
This year the celebration of Maha Shivaratri 2020 is taking place on21stFebruary (Friday). Those planning to fast need to know that the time for fasting starts in the morning of 21st February and the time for parana (breaking of the fast)startsin the morning of22nd February till the tithi ends.Break your fast between 06:58 AM and 3:45 PM (on 22nd February)
Chaturdashi Tithi: 04:34 PM on 21st February
Chaturdashi Tithi: 07:07 PM on 22th February
Nishita Kaal Puja Time = 12:25 AM to 01:14 AM (22nd February 2020)
First Prahar Puja Time (Night): 06:41 PM to 09:45 PM (on 21st February)
Second Prahar Puja Time (Night): 09:45 PM to 12:49 AM
Third Prahar Puja Time (Night): 12:49 AM to 03:54 AM
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time: 03:54 AM to 06:58 AM
Time to Break Your Fast: 06:58 AM to 3:45 PM (on 22nd February)