New Delhi [India] : Maha Shivratri, which essentially translates to ‘the great night of Shiva’, is considered one of the most auspicious festivals of the country. It is celebrated annually with much fervour and excitement across India. The chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ is heard throughout the nation on this day. This year, the Mahashivratri is being celebrated on March 1.
It’s believed that while there is a Shivratri every lunisolar month of the Hindu calendar, the Maha Shivratri, happens only once every year, in February/March, when winter comes to an end and spring and summer begin.
Out of the 12 Shivratris observed in any given year, Maha Shivratri is considered especially auspicious, as it is supposed to be the night of convergence of Shiva and Shakti, which in essence means the male and feminine energies that keep the world in balance. Shiva and Shakti are revered as the embodiment of love, power, and oneness.
There are different legends throughout history that describe the significance of Maha Shivratri.
One of them claims that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati tied the knot on this day. Purusha (mindfulness) is embodied by Lord Shiva, whilst Prakriti (nature) is embodied by Maa Parvati. With the union of both consciousness and energy, it facilitates creation.
Another story says, during Samudra Manthan, a pot emerged from the ocean which consisted of poison. All the Gods and demons were terrified that this will destroy the entire world and so, Gods went to Lord Shiva for help.
To protect the entire world from the evil effects, Shiva drank the entire poison and held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. Due to this, his throat became blue and hence he came to be known as Neelakantha.
Maha Shivratri is observed in several states of India like Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Bihar.
On this auspicious day, followers and devotees of Shiva observe fast and special pujas are performed in several temples of Shiva across the world. They offer milk to the Shivaling and pray for moksha.
Several devotees pray the whole night, chant mantras in praise of Lord Shiva. Besides the celebration of the marriage of Shiva and Shakti, unmarried women pray and observe fasts on the day to wish for a partner as compassionate as Lord Shiva. On this day, in various temples fairs and cultural programmes are also organised.
It is believed that those people who perform puja, fast, and offer prayers to Lord Shiva are blessed with good luck. Many people also think that Maha Shivratri fast reminds devotees that pride, ego and falsehood lead to downfall only. All in all, this is a day when positivity wins over negativity.