Maha Shivaratri is the most important festival which is celebrated throughout India in the name of God Shiva. The night dedicated to Lord Siva is known by the name Maha Shivaratri, which means ‘Night of Great Shiva’. It is celebrated with fun and enthusiasm. According to traditional Malayalam Calendar, it is celebrated in the Kumbha month.
Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon according to the Hindu Lunar month of Phalgun.
Many Hindus believe that it is necessary to keep themselves awake the whole night and also necessary to chant Shiva Mantra on that night. Devotees observe day and night fast on Shivaratri day. The Mahashivarathri night is a night of sleepless prayer and devotion.
There are many myths and stories related to Maha Shivaratri. The most popular 3 myths are as follow:
Samudra Manthan - Churning of the Ocean.
The most popular legend associated with Shivaratri is Samudra Manthan. The legend goes like this, Durvasa Muni gave a garland to Indra who was seated on top of Elephant, Airavat. Indra accepted the garland and put it on the trunk of Airavat. The white elephant got irritated by the smell of flowers and it threw the garland on the floor. This act enraged durvasa muni and he cursed Indra and Devas to be deprived of their energy, power, and luck. Devas wanted to regain their power, for that they have to churn the ocean of milk to get the nectar of immortality. For that, they formed an alliance with Asuras. they sought their help in return for sharing a portion of the nectar of immortality. Thus the churning of the ocean began by using Vasuki, the serpent king as the rope and Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod. While churning the ocean many things came out of the ocean. Vasuki released Halahala poison which was very poisonous and can destroy the whole world. Shiva timely interfered, and he consumed the poison and saved the world. In order to save Shiva, Parvathi held his throat tight and not allowed him to swallow the poison, which made poison to remain in his throat. The rishis advised Siva to stay awake the whole night to escape from the side effects of the poison. In order to keep shiva awake, Gods amused him with dance and music. Next day morning Shiva was pleased by the act of Gods and blessed them. To commemorate this event, Shivaratri is celebrated every year.
The marriage of Shiva and Parvathi
Shivaratri is considered as the wedding day of Shiva and Parvati. Parvathi performed tapas and prayers on moonless nights to get Shiva as her husband and also for his well being.It is said that they performed Taandav together on the night of their marriage, Taandav is the dance of creation, destruction, and harmony which was performed by Shiva and Parvati.
Shiva’s manifestation as Linga
Another legend is about Shiva’s intervention in a heated argument between Brahma and Vishnu regarding their superiority. Shiva gets irritated over the egoistic argument of Brahma and Vishnu. This made him assume the form of flaming Linga, and they were asked to find the beginning and end of the linga. The day of manifestation of Shiva as Linga for the first time is extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri,
Shivaratri Pooja includes performing Abhisheka to Shivalinga using milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, sugar, and water.
It is considered very useful for all married women to observe this fast for the well-being of their husband. It can give them happy and prosperous married life.