Mahashivaratri, king of festivals, is the major festival of the Hindus. This is the main festival of Lord Shiva. Named after the night of Lord Shiva’s origin, the festival is described in the Puranas as one of the four major nights, Kalaratri, Moharatri, Sukharatri and Shivaratri. Celebrated on the day of Falgun Krishna Chaturdashi, this festival is also considered as the most beloved day of Lord Shiva, who brought religion to the hearts of all the miserable beings.
On the day of Mahashivaratri, which is said to be one of the best fasting festivals, devotees purify themselves, worship at the Shiva temple, fast and offer milk, datura and belpatra, which are the favorite items of Lord Shiva.
There is a religious belief that if one fasts on this festival day and chants the mantra “Om NamahShivaya ”, one does not have to go to Yamalokam for the full benefits. At the beginning of creation, there is a religious belief that Lord Shankara descended from Brahma as Rudra at midnight on this day. On the same day in the apocalypse, Lord Shiva ends the universe with the flame of the third eye while performing Tandava.
Shivaratri &Maha Shivaratri
In 365 days, there are total 12 Shivaratri. As per the Hindu calendar, each month of Krishna Paksha at 14th day is taken as Shivaratri. Among all those, the Shivaratri that occurs at Falgun is known as Maha Shivaratri. It takes palce in Falgun Chaturdashi. It is said that, on the Falgun Chaturdashi’s night, Lord Shiva appeared from the body of Brahma as the Rudra. Because of his incarnation, this day is taken as the day to celebrate Maha Shivaratri. On thi day, lord Shiva is worshipped with great dedication and affection.
Why is Maha Shivaratri Celebrated?
As per the myth and traditional beliefs, it is said that there exists three different reasons beyond the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. Among all of them, marriage ceremony held between Lord Shiva and Mother Parvati is the most remarkable one. Because of this reason, devotees of Lord Shiva organize the procession of Shiva at the Falgun Shukla Paksha night. The major three reasons beyond the celebration of Lord Shiva are as follow:
- Shiva-Parvati’s marriage
On the 14th day of Krishna Paksha, falgun, Mother Parvati and Lord Shiva were tied in marriage relationship. Because of their marriage ceremony, this day is celebrated to cherish the beautiful love union between them. It is believed that to make Lord Shiva happy, one needs to worship him in this day.It is said that if any people facing the difficulties in marriage life or have the obstacles in organizing their marriage worship the Lord Shiva and chant his mantra, then all the obstacle will be eradicated and the wishes will be fulfilled soon.
- Origin of Mahadev’s Shivalinga
According to the ancient beliefs, it was the day of Maha Shivaratri when Lord Shiva came in his orginal form. Brahma and Vishnu worshipped the Lord Shiva at first and offer him different offerings. Because of this reasons, there is the tradition of worshipping and paying homage to Shiva Linga on Maha Shivaratri.
- Shiva protect the world from crisis by poisoning
According to the mythology, it was the Lord Shiva who drank the poisionrealsed from the sea to protect the world from the great difficulties. From that day onwards,Mahashivaratri was celebrated to worship the creator of the earth. After drinking the poison directly, Lord’s Shiva throat was seen blue. As a result, from that he also named as Nilakantha.
Crowd in Pashupatinath Temple
On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, devotees flock to various Shivalayas like Pashupatinath of Kathmandu, Arjundhara of Jhapa, Ramdhuni and Pindeshwar of Sunsari, Halesi of Khotang, Kirateshwar of Morang and Galeshwar of Gulmi. Among all of them, Pasupatinath carries the major importance as a Lord Shiva temple.
Pasupatinath is situated in the capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu because of which there is a special crowd in this temple during Maha Shivaratri. On this occasion, Jogis, Yogis and devotees from different parts of the world including India come to Pashupatinath Temple. Sadhus who have achieved perfection in various things and are living a spiritual and sannyas life beyond the society we live in, come from different parts of India and Nepal to visit Pashupatinath. On their return, it is customary for the Pashupati Development Fund to give them a formal leave, including Dakshina and Bheti.
How is Maha Shivaratri Celebrated?
On this day, Shiva devotees go to Shiva temples, offer bells, etc. to the Shivalinga, worship, fast and wake up at night. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated by performing special rituals like offering bell-leaves on Shiva linga, fasting and waking up at night. Shiva was married on this day, so it is customary to worship Shiva at night.
On this day, water is filled in an earthen pot, and bel leaves, ank, datura flowers, rice, etc. are placed on it and offered to Shivling. If there is no Shivalaya nearby, there is a provision to worship it by making a Shivling from pure mud. It is the religion of every devotee to stay awake at night and listen to the text and story of Shiva Purana. The next morning, the fast is ended by burning barley, sesame, kheer and bel leaves.
Mahashivaratri – the night of consciousness awakening
Mahashivaratri is an opportunity or possibility – to come in contact with or experience that vast emptiness within every human being. The same vast emptiness, which is the source of all creation. On the one hand, Shiva is called the destroyer, while on the other hand, he is known to be extremely compassionate. He is also called the Great Giver. The yoga story is full of many stories about Shiva’s compassion. His ways of expressing compassion are incredible as well as amazing. Therefore, Mahashivaratri is a special night to receive something.
My wish and blessing is that you should not spend this night without experiencing the great emptiness, or Shiva. Don’t let the night of Mahashivaratri be just a night for you to wake up – this night should be a night of intense vitality and awakening for you!
So, Maha Shivaratri revolves around Shiva. Shiva is a god who has no shape, who cannot be divided, and whose destruction of anger can scatter all the components of the world. Everything in the world comes from the Shiva tatva (principle) and merges into the same element. Let’s not be Shiva by consuming cannabis and Daturo. Let’s embrace Shiv Tatva. Let’s give up anger, rage and ego on this Shivaratri and walk towards the true path of life.
-Article written by: Kusum Kharel for Land Nepal