Celebrated in honour of the Hindu deity, Mahadev, Maha Shivratri marks the emergence of a new moon in the month of Maagha as per the Hindu calendar every year. The highly revered ceremony is about to take place this year on the 4th of March. It is a festival in itself as it ushers the winds of prosperity and good luck. It brings out the best of Spring season. Waves of happiness surrounds the vicinity during this jolly season. It is celebrated with equal zest in every part of the country, be in the Northern or Southern.
The prime significance of this celebration is the conquest of the dark and evil by Shiva. It represents the glorious victory of Shiva in defeating the diabolical energy and establishing peace. The celebration commences with a mandatory bath in a holy water body especially Ganga to cleanse the body and soul. Avid devotees of Shiva observe this occasion by offering prayers and puja, chanting holy mantras.
As per the prevalent Hindu folklore, the ocean was intoxicated with deadly a poison which had the potential to end the world, appalled by this event of terror, God and Goddess approached to the “Devo K Dev-Mahadev”. Braveheart Shiva drank the poison however he didn’t swallow it. Instead, he clenched the poison inside his throat which further led his throat to turn blue. That’s how his “Neelkantha” came into existence. Ever since then, the Hindu community in order to commemorate Shiva’s stout-heartedness, assemble and observe the grand Maha Shivratri all over the country. Most of them observe a fast. The Shivalinga is offered fruits, milk, honey and bel patta by masses of devotees. One can also offer Shiva’s much coveted “Bhaang”.
What to do:
- “Om Namah Shivaya”
-The ultimate mantra to be chanted. Post-puja, a lamp is to be lit. This lamp acts as the symbol of devotion.
- The definition of “fasting” during the Maha Shivaratri is consuming milk and fruits exclusively. A devotee can also consider tea, coffee, sabudana khichri, lauki ka halwa during fast.
- Sleepless night – The one who fasts must stay up all night chanting hymns, praising the Lord. The fast comes to an end only the next morning after having the prasad.
- Rose water, sandalwood, milk, honey, curd and ghee, anyone of these can be used for the application of tilak on the Shivalinga.
- On the completion of puja, the Shiv arati begins. The puja comes to an end after reading the 108 names of Shiva.
What to avoid:
- NO to vermillion a.k.a. sindoor, YES to sandalwood. Since, sindoor is meant for females. Shivalinga represents Lord Shiva who is a God. Moreover, sandalwood is a cooling agent.
- Offer chilled milk only. Do not pour the milk directly from the packet. Fill it in a vessel and then offer the cold milk to the Shivalinga.
- Never ever offer tulsi leaves to Lord Shiva. One must prefer Bel Patta
- An absolute no to coconut water. Although, raw coconuts are okay.
- Devotees must not prefer the colour black as Lord Shiva despises it.
- Champa flowers are inauspicious as it has a story behind it which concerns a dispute between Narad and Shiva.
- It must be noted that the bell patta mustn’t be torn or damaged. It has to be freshly plucked.
An integral part of Maha Shivaratri is the mantra hymning. The effectiveness of the chanting is said to be multiplied if chanted along with a Rudraksha mala. Rudraksha is an extremely powerful bead. The fruitfulness of these mantra is best derived with the help of Rudraksha. These mystically beads are the very own teardrops of Lord Shiva. “Rudraaksha” stands for Rudra’s Aksha which means Mahadev’s teardrops. The organic beads of Rudraksha are a boon and can provide great results. They share a deep connection with the Lord.
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