Maha Shivaratri is celebrated mainly amongst Hindus. Hinduism is the world’s oldest religion, and its evidence can be found in The Vedas which are 5000 years old written texts. Hindus have settled down all over the world. In India, Maha Shivratri will be celebrated on the 11th March 2021, date which differs every year, as the Hindu calendar is based on the luni-solar calendar, differentiating it from the Gregorian calendar. If we break down the Maha-Shiva-Ratri word: Maha means big, Shiva is Lord who is worshipped, personified or impersonified, for this is the energy on which the entire creation rests, and Ratri means night which gives rest and comforts one. Hence this night is about contemplating on physical and mental peace along with spirituality.
Actually, Shivaratri happens every month and Maha Shivaratri, once a year. The festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the Chaturdashi of the Krishna Paksha of Phalgun month as per Hindu calendar.
So why is Maha Shivratri celebrated and what is done during the festival?
As per Hindu mythology Maha Shivaratri celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. There are other stories as well behind this festival, and all over India people have personal beliefs linked to their devotion. Shiva is often referred to as the Lord of destruction while Goddess Pravati is known as Goddess of fertility, love and beauty. Many devotees of Shiva fast on this festival, worshipping him in temples or from their own home, in the form of Shiva Linga, an iconic representation of Shiva, reminding one of the impersonal nature of the divine. Many are those who stay awake and worship him all night long, chanting Har Har Mahaadev or Om Namah Shivay.
Shiva temples are usually busy on this particular day, with devoted souls flocking in with offerings of fruits, flowers, milk, honey and seeds.
Devotees do Rudra Abhishek of Shiva Linga where the linga is bathed with different substances like water, curd, milk, honey, Datura fruit as well as other offerings made to Lord Shiva. An offering of Dhatura, scientifically known as Datura stramonium, or Thorn Apple (Datura) is believed to help one get rid of envy, terror, wicked nature or any other negative tendencies. Offerings are made as per one’s own will and capacity.
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Why do people fast?
Married and unmarried men and women both worship Shiva and typically fast. Fasting is good for health and has many scientific merits to it, as it allows the body to go into autophagy. Some only drink water; some might keep to a fruit diet while others might have only one meal in the evening. It all depends on the individual and his/her faith. There is no absolute path in the Hindu religion.
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Maha Shivaratri : A day of devotion and patience
This day is an opportunity for people to align with the all-pervasive consciousness by fasting and chanting. Lord Shiva is known as the annihilator of evils and also the first yogi. This is a special day where people pray to seek blessings and perform rituals, which give them immense tranquility and comfort. On this day, we wish everyone a Happy Maha Shivratri and happiness to each and every being on Earth.
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