Lord Shiva is one of the principle deities in Hinduism. He is one among the trinity and is addressed by many names. Lord Shiva in the spiritual realm is known as the Higher Consciousness. He is present in every particle and bit. Since olden times, Lord Shiva has been highly revered and worshipped by people across the globe. Not only Hindus but people from different ethnicities worship Lord Shiva. According to the body Chakras, Lord Shiva is associated with the highest and most pivotal chakra which is the Crown Chakra which is situated at the crown of the head. Spiritually, Lord Shiva is known as the highest form of energy that is present in every minuscule particle of this entire universe.
The festival of Maha Shivratri is one of the most ancient festivals that have been celebrated by Hindu people since the Medieval Era. The Holy festival of Maha Shivratri finds its mention in the Puranas. It is celebrated mainly by the people of the Shaivism sect. The beauty or the importance of the Maha Shivratri tithi there is an upsurge of energy in the human body and this forms the perfect opportunity to utilize this energy to uplift spirituality and positivity in life.
In a calendar year every month, there is a Shiv Ratri which is also known as masik Shiv ratris. Thus, the number of Shivratri that occur in a year is 12 and Maha Shivratri is the grand Shivratri that occurs in the month of February-March.
Things to do on Maha Shivratri
Unlike other festivals, the event of Maha Shivratri is observed and enjoyed at night. Given below are the lists of things one must observe on this auspicious occasion
- Observe fast- Some people go without eating for an entire day while some eat fruits or foods that are allowed to be consumed once in the entire day
- Mediate – As mentioned earlier, the energy levels in the human body are high on this day so it is advisable to meditate and channelize your energy in the correct path. This is the day when one can concentrate on knowing the real self and get closer to the ‘Upaguru’ aka the higher self. The act of meditation also helps one to release and break free from the unknown fears and bondages
- Chant the universal mantra of ‘OM’ and other Shiv mantras to bring in focus and to energize yourself with positivity.
- Visit the Shiva temples and participate in the festivities as this occasion is celebrated throughout the night.
- Do Shiv linga abhishekam with milk, water, and by placing a bilva leaf on the Shiv Ling
The story behind the Mahashivratri fast
The deities and demons often indulged in fights and this created a lot of trouble for all the three worlds (heavens, earth, and patal lok). All the Gods were tired of these routine fights and thus went to Lord Vishnu to seek His help. Lord Vishnu suggested all the Gods churn the Ocean of Milk as it was inside the ocean where the nectar of elixir lay unattended. All the Gods agreed but, churning the Maha Sagar was not an easily achievable task. Hence the Lord Vishnu suggested that the ocean should be churned by seeking the help of Asuras (demons) too.
Initially, the demon disagreed but when they learned about the elixir they wanted it too, and hence they agreed to Lord Vishnu’s proposal of churning the Milky Ocean along with the Gods on the condition that they too would get an equal portion of the elixir.
Vasuki, the King of snakes was used as a rope to churn Mount Mandara and Lord Vishnu took the Kurma avatar and took Mount Mandara on his back to support it and to stop it from sinking in the ocean. Along with many valuable things that emerged out of the ocean, a deadly poison named Halahala also emerged from the waters. The poison was so dangerous that it could kill anyone with a mere one drop. The Gods as well as the demons were scared and hence they went to Lord Shiva and started praying to him to save them from the poison. After learning the whole story, Lord Shiva in order to safeguard all the three worlds and the living creatures consumed the poison. Soon, the Lord started feeling sick hence His consort Goddess Parvati placed Her palm on Lord Shiva’s throat hindering the poison from flowing down His throat and from stopping it from spreading further. Goddess Parvati placed her palm on Lord Shiva’s neck for an entire day and night and also observed fast during this period. Her penance paid off and Lord Shiva was unharmed but His throat turned blue. Hence He is also addressed as ‘Neelkanth’. Thus, from that day onwards, fasting is observed by devotees on the occasion of Maha Shivratri.
Hope, you understood the importance of this auspicious day and you would enjoy this Maha Shivratri with equal vigor and devotion.