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Happy Maha Shivaratri - Day of Shiva

Friday, Feb. 12th

Lord Shiva and family  Significance of Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri has tremendous importance in the Vedic calendar and has many significances. This day is the most auspicious day of the entire year to worship Lord Shiva and receive his most compassionate grace.  On this day, Lord Shiva's complete grace showers down upon the entire Earth.

Significance of Maha Shivaratri

For thousands of years on Maha Shivaratri, spiritual seekers have sought Lord Shiva's blessings on this day by engaging in various spiritual practices (sadhana) dedicated to him, including meditation, maintaining silence, repeating Shiva mantras, singing Shiva stotras and bhajans and the performance of Shiva pujas and yajnas.

There is also a special practice, or vow (vrata), that many devotees of Lord Shiva undertake at the time of Maha Shivaratri. This practice involves fasting and staying awake for the entire night, making sure to worship Lord Shiva during every quarter of the night until dawn breaks. This practice is very powerful for inner purification, and it makes it possible to absorb the abundant divine energy that is available to all on this night.

It is said that those who worship Lord Shiva, especially on Maha Shivaratri, will receive his grace in the form of true wealth, wisdom, peace, inner healing, spiritual virtues and divine courage.

Lord Shiva

Maha Shivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja (king of the dance) performed the Maha Tandava (sacred dance that creates and destroys creation)

(see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nataraja )



Another major significance is that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Goddess Parvati. This is the reason many temples also celebrate this Holy day with the 'Shiva Partvati Kalyanam' (Holy Matrimony) ritual.

Shiva Partvati Kalyanam' (Holy Matrimony)

Yet another reason is that during the 'Samudra Manthan'' (Churning of the ocean of Milk, described in the Vedic literature, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churning_of_the_Milky_Ocean), Lord Shiva saved the entire creation from the deadly poison by swallowing it himself. This prevented the destruction of the entire creation. This is why one of the names of Shiva is Nilkanth.  According to the Puranas, Lord Shiva received this name as he drank the poison that emerged from the oceans when it was churned to obtain the 'amrita' - the nectar of immortality.  With his yogic powers, he stopped the poison in his throat, preventing it from going any further and harming his body. But the poison did turn his neck blue, so he has been known as Nilkanth - the Blue-Throated one.  Hence this day is observed in honor of Lord Shiva by all His dear devotees to express their sincere gratitude and devotion.

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva

Maha Shivaratri is also considered to be an extremely significant festival by the women. Traditionally, women observe fast and pray to Lord Shiva with sincerity. This is believed to appease Goddess Parvati, who then bestows the devotees with a happy and long life and marriage.

According to the ancient Vedic Scriptures, the special importance of Maha Shivaratri is that Lord Shiva Himself said to the Goddess Parvati that the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun pleases Him the most. He announced that those who observe fast and keep vigil all night and offer fruits, flowers and Bel (Bilva) leaves on Shiva Lingam in his worship will be absolved of all their negative karmas and will be liberated to attain Moksha.

Maha Shivaratri

Lord Shiva(Bilva)

Hence the festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bel (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, all day fasting and all night long vigil. The ceremonies take place chiefly at night and it is considered an extremely auspicious day. All the devotees perform the ritual worship of Maha Shivratri with care and devotion.

They observe day and night fast and give a sacred bath to Shiva Lingam with Honey, Milk, Curds, Fruit juices and then by Water (this is called Panchamrita Snanam ) followed by Pujja with Bel leaves, flowers and fruits, then Archana and concludes with Mangala Aarti.  Many Homas and Yajnas are also performed for the devotees' welfare.  

Shiva Lingam

 It is also believed that the worship of Lord Shiva with devotion and sincerity absolves a devotee of not only karma from this birth but also past karma being carried forward previous births. After being liberated from these karmas, the devotee reaches the abode of Lord Shiva (Shiva Lokam). He is also liberated from the cycle of births and deaths and attains Moksha (liberation).

Shiva Lokam

  Moksha (liberation)






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