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‘Om Namah Shivaya’: Here’s why and how Maha Shivaratri is celebrated

India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi 24 Feb 2017, 13:17:08 IST
India TV Lifestyle Desk

Maha Shivratri is one of the biggest Hindu festivals in the country that is celebrated with much fervour. With celebrations taking place in different parts of the country, it is a day that is considered very auspicious and people offer their prayers to Lord Shiva with all their heart to seek his divine blessings. The festival itself means the night of Shiva.

Maha Shivaratri 2017

Maha Shivaratri 2017 will be observed today evening.

It is celebrated for over three or ten days based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar. Every lunar month, there is a Shivaratri (12 per year). The main festival is called Maha Shivaratri, or great Shivaratri, and this is on the 13th night (waning moon) and 14th day of the month Phalguna (Magha).

As per the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in either the month of February or March.

Various mythical stories about Maha Shivaratri

•    According to some folklore, Shivaratri is celebrated as the day when Shiva saved the world from the pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan. 
•    If legends are to be believed, Lord Shiva drank the poison and stored in his throat, which made his throat turn blue. This is why he also came to be known as Neelkanth.
•    According to another legend, this is the day when Shiva performed Tandava or the dance of creation, preservation and destruction. 
•    One such story is that the formless God appeared in the form of Lingodbhav Moorti at midnight on Maha Shivratri and this is said to be the reason why devotees stay awake at night and offer prayers to the Lord.
•    Maha Shivratri is said to be the day when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. Thus it marks the convergence of two greatest forces of the Universe i.e. Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati.

What is to be done on Maha Shivratri 2017?

This traditional celebration is followed by observing fast for the entire day. On Maha Shivratri, devotees eat only once in the entire day and then worship at the night of Chaturdashi. Vedic science advises us to observe a fast and spend the day in prayer and meditation, to prepare the body and mind to receive the huge influx of spiritual energy. 

The highly charged atmosphere makes meditation effortless, allowing us to leap easily into higher states of awareness. On this night, the whole universe seems to support us for this experience.
Most powerful fast

In accordance with Hindu Mythology, observing the fast on the day of Maha Shivaratri is considered to be the most powerful among all other fasts. It is believed that the person who worships Lord Shiva with complete devotion on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, his actions gets controlled.

While observing this Maha Shivaratri fast, most of the people go on a fruit and milk diet.

The festival of Mahashivratri is celebrated by offering certain things like Bael leaves to the idol of Lord Shiva.

Maha Shivaratri in Nepal and Mauritius 

Maha Shivaratri is also celebrated in Nepal, particularly in Pashupatinath, a temple devoted to Shiva's incarnation as Pashupati, Lord of the Animals.

Thousands of worshippers congregate at the temple and the Nepalese army parades around the city of Kathmandu to pay tribute to the god.

Hindus in Mauritius go on a barefoot pilgrimage from their homes to their most sacred place, the crater lake of Ganga Talao where there is a temple dedicated to the god.