What is Maha Shivratri and how it is celebrated?

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Once a year, in the 11th month as per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, the festival of Maha Shivratri or Mahashivaratri is celebrated. For people who follow the lunar calendar, the Hindu New Year begins from the first day of the month of Chaitra (corresponding to March-April).

What is Maha Shivratri and how it is celebrated

The celebration falls in the month of February or March, before the arrival of the spring season. This day is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is also known as the ‘Great Night of Shiva’. According to Hindu mythology, each day in the Hindu calendar holds some significance. The legend behind the celebration of Mahashivratri varies from region to region and community to community. Here are two commonly known legends about the Maha Shivratri.

  • According to one of the legends in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs Tandav (the heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction).
  • According to another legend, this is the night when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married.

Must read:  Shiva Tandav Dance – Why did Lord Shiva perform tandava?

What is Maha Shivratri and how it is celebrated’

The celebrations are carried out in the following manner:

What is Maha Shivratri and how it is celebrated

  • Maha Shivratri is one of the biggest festivals of the Hindu religion. Devotees offer water, milk, dhatura, bhaang, flowers to Shiva’s idol or Shivalinga and worship the Hindu God of destruction.
  • Shiva is considered as the ideal husband and most of the unmarried girls pray for a husband like him.
  • It is believed that the people who fast on this day and offer prayers to Lord Shiva bring good luck into their life.
  • The chanting of hymns, reading of Shiva scriptures and other religious practices are performed by the devotees on the Shivratri.

Must Read: The Twelve Jyotirlinga temples of Shiva in India 

The most popular Maha Shivratri celebrations in India:

What is Maha Shivratri and how it is celebrated

  • The most popular Maha Shivratri celebrations take place in Ujjain, as it is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva resides.
  • Large processions are carried out throughout the Ujjain city and people rush into the streets to catch a glimpse of the idol of Lord Shiva.
  • In many smaller towns and villages of northern, central, eastern and western India, ‘Kanwarias’ or ‘Palanquin bearers’ carry the holy water they have collected from the holy rivers like the Ganges, Yamuna and more.
  • Kawarians move on foot, bikes and other means in a procession called ‘Shiv Jatras’. The Kawad Yatra is a kind of penance that the devotees undertake to please the good lord.
  • On the day of Shivratri, they pour the holy water collected by them on the Shivlingam and seek Shiva’s blessings. 

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