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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maha Shivaratri 2012 is on February 20, Monday

sent by Priya 


Mahashivaratri Festival

Mahashivaratri Festival or the ‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of Shiva Lingam to appease Lord Shiva.

According to legend,this day marks the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Parvati. With the marriage to Parvathi,the devotees had a god with form or Sagun Brahman. Without Parvathi, Shiva was a Nirgun Brahman or a formless entity. There is also the belief that Shiva manifested himself in the form of the Linga on this holy day.
The second legend attributes Shivaratri as a form of thanksgiving to the Lord, for protecting the universe from destruction. During Samudra Mathana or churning of the ocean, a deadly poison emanated. The poison was so deadly that even a drop would have destroyed the universe. When the gods to beseech him for help. Lord Shiva's stomach represents the universe, so he drank the poison, but held it at his neck, turning it blue.That is why devotees hail him as Neelakanth.
Another legend says, on this day of Mahashivaratri, Lord Shiva performed a special dance, the Thandava Nritya or the cosmic dance of creation,preservation and destruction. In this dance, Shiva destroys the old world and creates a new one. His dance represents the energy flowing through the world giving it the seasons, day and night and birth and death.
There is a fourth legend associated with Maha Shivaratri. Once, a hunter was unsuccessfully looking for a prey in the forest. He couldn't find anything for the whole day. Towards evening, he climbed on a Bael tree and continued his wait. As he was drinking some water he had picked up at a stream earlier, a few drops fell on the ground below. Impatient with his wait, he plucked a few bael leaves and drops them down as well. Soon, a female deer or doe comes to the spring. When the hunter takes aim, the deer, having seen him, implores him to wait a just little bit more so that she can bid farewell to her kids. The hunter agrees. When the female deer comes back, the male deer accompanying her asks the hunter to shoot him instead. The foals then come forward and also plead with the hunter to take their lives instead. The hunter is moved with their sacrificial nature and unity and lets them all go. When he alights from the tree, he is pleasantly surprised to see Lord Shiva there.
Actually, underneath the bael tree, there was a Shiva Lingam nestled in the thicket there. The hunter had unknowingly worshipped that lingam by sprinkling water and throwing bael leaves on it. When he had exhibited compassion to the deer family even in dire hunger, he had pleased Lord Shiva. As a result, Lord Shiva bestowed wealth and prosperity on him. From that day, the Shiva lingam is worshipped on this auspicious day, and hailed as Maha Shivaratri.

When is Shivaratri?

Maha Shivaratri 2012 is on February 20, Monday

Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night. According to Hindu mythology, Shivaratri or 'Shiva's Great Night' symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many however, believe, Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. Celebrating the festival in a customary manner, devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with the panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Celebrations of Shivaratri Festival mainly take place at night. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng Shiva temples across the country and spend ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord. The festival holds special meaning for the ladies. They pray to Goddess Parvati also called 'Gaura', the giver of 'suhag' for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life. Significance of Shivaratri in Hinduism Festival of Mahashivaratri has tremendous significance in Hinduism. According to sacred scriptures, ritual worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratrifestival that falls on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun pleases Lord Shiva the most. This fact is said to have been declared by Lord Shiva himself, when his consort Parvati asked him as to which ritual performed by his devotees pleases him the most. Even till date, devotees of Lord Shiva perform the ritual worship of Shivratri with care and devotion. They observe day and nigh fast and give sacred bath to Shiva Linga with honey, milk, water etc. Hindus consider it extremely auspicious to worship Lord Shiva on a Shivaratri as it is believed that worship of Lord Shiva with devotion and sincerity absolves a devotee of past sins. The devotee reaches the abode of Lord Shanker and lives there happily. He is also liberated from the cycle of birth and death and attains moksha or salvation. Significance of Shivaratri for Women Mahashivratri Festival is also considered to be an extremely significant festival by women. Married and unmarried women observe fast and perform Shiva Puja with sincerity to appease Goddess Parvati who is also regarded as ‘Gauri’ - one who bestows marital bliss and long and prosperous married life. Unmarried women also pray for a husband like Lord Shiva who is regarded as the ideal husband. 

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sent by Priya  

1 comment:

Shyna said...

Good Article. Thank You!