Hindus all across the country celebrate several festivals throughout the year. Mahashivaratri is among the most significant festivals for all the Hindus and especially for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Mahashivaratri is said to be the festival that pleases Lord Shiva the most. Mahashivaratri is considered to be one of the most auspicious festivals celebrated by the Hindu community, around the world. This festival is celebrated on the moonless night of Falgun, a month in Hindu calendar. And this year, the auspicious festival falls on 1st Falgun, 2074 (13th February 2018) on Tuesday.
Mahashivaratri means the “Great night of Shiva”, and celebrated making the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. The festival also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the “Tandav”, the cosmic dance. Devotees throng the Shiva temples with prayers and offerings of fruits and flowers. It is celebrated with much joy and devotion across the country.
Stories behind Celebration of Mahashivaratri
There seem to be many stories regarding the celebration of Mahashivaratri. I’ve collected and mentioned some of those stories below:
At the time of Samudra Manthan, a pot full of poison emerged from the ocean. The poison had the capability of destroying the entire world and this terrified both, Gods and Demons. Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat in order to save the world. Mahashivaratri is celebrated to recall and rejoice the event when Shiva saved the world.
The whole night of worshipping Lord Shiva has a different story. Once upon a time, there was a tribal man who was very poor and also a devotee of Lord Shiva. One day he went to a forest to collect firewood and unfortunately, lost his way out. During the night, he climbed up a tree and stayed awake the entire night. While staying awake he was plucking leaves from the tree and along with enchanting the name of Lord Shiva, dropped them one by one on the ground. In the morning he saw that he had dropped thousands of leaves that night and there was a Shiva Linga on each dropped leaf. Unknowingly, he worshipped Lord Shiva on that auspicious day of Mahashivaratri, and for this, he was rewarded with divine bliss.
It is also believed that Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva were married on this day and therefore the day was known as Mahashivaratri.
Mahashivaratri is also a day when sacred hymns are chanted. Legends say these Mantras are said to bring big changes in the environment. It purifies the atmosphere, increases positivity, helps destroy bad karmas and makes nature celebrate the occasion. Everything, when done together on this auspicious day, strengthens one’s connection with the divine.
Mahashivaratri Celebration and Significance
According to the Hindu mythology, on the Chaturdashi night of Falgun, the negative energies are at their peak. And that is why Mahashivaratri is observed and Lord Shiva is revered to destroy the adverse effects of tamas (negative forces) all around and establish a serene and healthy atmosphere for all of us. Legend has it that worshipping Lord Shiva on this day bestows one with happiness and prosperity.
Experts are of the opinion that on Mahashivaratri, Shiva Tattva touches the earth. Shiva is considered as the soul of everything. It means peace, beauty, infinity, and Ratri means taking refuge. So, the literal meaning of Mahashivaratri is taking refuge in Shiva or in other words it is about celebrating and understanding Shiva Tattva within oneself.
If you live in a Hindu community, you might be familiar with the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. On this day, devotees stay awake and offer prayers, perform rituals and pay obeisance to the most graceful of the deities, Lord Shiva for his blessings.
Shiva devotees observe the whole day and night fasting. Shiva Linga pooja is done during the night by chanting mantras, offering Bael leaf and pouring water on the Shiva–linga. A fireplace is set in avenues and temples at night to make Lord Shiva warm. In villages and towns, big logs are burnt in places and people sing Shiva bhajans the whole night.
Thousands of devotees visit Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu to worship Lord Shiva on that day. Pashupatinath Temple is one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus. It is also considered the Guardian and Protector of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal.
There is always a big fair and market set around Pashupatinath area in Shivaratri. People are seen buying things. Announcements, music, dances, sadhus, markets, and a large number of tourist make Shivaratri more fun. Women and kids are seen putting mehendi on their hands. Snake dance, circus, and other fun activities can also be seen in the surrounding areas of Pashupatinath temple.
A large number of different types of Sadhus can be seen in the Pashupati area during the Shivaratri festival.
The sadhus are covered with bhibhuti (Ashes). The Sadhus are said to have mastered the pain of heat, cold and sufferings and have devoted their life to Lord Shiva. They smoke weeds as a divine gift of Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva is known to be the one who enjoys taking bhis (Poison), bhang, Dhatooro (jimson Weeds).
People stand in queue from early morning to worship Shiva-Linga at Pashupatinath. Devotees stand in queue for hours without food or some even without water.
Festivals in Nepal are often linked with deep-rooted religious faiths and traditions, but also have the benefit of bringing people from different backgrounds together and inspiring them to celebrate together.
The Shivaratri festival is celebrated for a whole day in Pashupatinath Temple and other Lord Shiva temples. If you also want to experience the excitement of this grand festival, make sure you visit the Pashupatinath temple tomorrow. The celebration of Maha Shivaratri will surely provide you a great dose of excitement and lasting memories.