’ – As the name itself says, is the day of Lord Shiva. We can break it up into three words – ‘Maha
’ meaning Great, ‘Shiv
’ meaning Lord Shiva, and ‘Ratri
’ meaning night. Therefore, the word ‘Mahashivratri
’ means the great night of worshipping Lord Shiva. This is the most important day for all those who believe in and pray to Lord Shiva. It is the biggest festival for Shiva devotees.
What is the legend behind Mahashivratri?
There is not one, but two important legends associated with this great day.
Samudra Mathan – The ‘Samudra Mathan’ is a very well-known legend of Hinduism, wherein the churning of the oceans resulted in the emerging of a pot of poison that could destroy the world. This is why to save the world, Lord Shiva drank the poison from the pot, which was then held up in his throat. This is why he is also known as ‘Neelkantha’ and is greatly worshipped on this day revering him for what he did.
Shiv-Parvati wedding – Another common legend associated with this day is that it is the day when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati, thus marking their union. This is why it is not Lord Shiva alone, but also Goddess Parvati who is worshipped on this day in every Shiva temple.
What do devotees do on Mahashivratri?
There are various ways in which devotees can please Lord Shiva on this day.
’ – Devotees are seen to be cleansing the Shivlinga in Shiva temples on this day with milk and water. They then apply vermillion paste and adorn the Shivlinga with wood apple or belpatra. Incense sticks and lamps are them lighted, and fruits are offered to the Lord. All this is done to please Lord Shiva so that he can bless his devotees with materialistic pleasures.
Through fasting – The devotees of Lord Shiva observe fast on this day, where they are constrained from consuming certain types of foods. There are some who keep a Nirjara Vrat, meaning they have nothing for the entire day – not even water! Others observe fast where they can drink only water. And then there are others who observe fast where they can consume only milk, fruits and sago. Fasting in any of these ways with complete faith and devotion helps attain the blessings of Lord Shiva, and also helps one get rid of all past sins. Married women observe this fast for peace and prosperity of her family members, and longevity of her husband. On the other hand, single women do so for getting a husband like Lord Shiva himself.
Through meditation – Lord Shiva is considered as a great practitioner of meditation. On the night of Mahashivratri, the position of the celestial bodies in the Northern Hemisphere is said to encourage spiritual energy of humans to extreme levels. So, those following the path of spiritualism, meditate all night long to seek enlightenment of the soul and blessings of the Lord.
Whatever your reason may be, and whichever way you decide to please Lord Shiva, but if you are a true Shiva devotee, you must conduct the holy Mahashivratri Puja. MakeMyPuja Pujaris will help you conduct this Puja in the most righteous manner to attain the blessings of the Lord so that you are blessed with peace, prosperity and harmony all your life.