Every Mahashivratri is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm to honour Lord Shiva. Also this is one of the most auspicious festival of Hindus in which they offer prayer to their Lord Shiva. Mahashivratri is generally celebrated on the 13th or 14th day of the Krishna Paksha of Falgun as per the Indian calendar. According to Shiv Puran this festival comes in the Chaturdashi of Shravan month. As per the english calendar this festival is going to be celebrated on 4th March this year.
Spiritual significance of Mahashivratri
Though there are many tales behind why this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri, the most believable tale is about how Lord Shiva was approached by Gods all over the world to protect them from a poison that the vast oceans were gurgling out hence posing a danger to their existence. In order to save them, Mahadev swallowed the poison himself and stored it in his throat with the help of a snake coiling around it. Gods thanked the Lord for saving them and after that, it is believed that whoever observes a fast on this day and honors Lord Shiva with devotion and faith, he or she is blessed life and health by the Lord himself.
The other tale revolves around Maha Shivratri is the reunion of Lord Shiva and Parvati on this day after the Gods reformed Sati, Shiva's wife in the form of Parvati. According to mythology, Sati sacrificed herself to the sacred fire after her father insulted Shiva in front of all at an event in his own kingdom. This day is also referred as the day of arousal of 'Jyotirlinga', an avatar of Mahadev.
Rituals of Maha Shivratri
Normally devotees take fast the whole day with intake of only some fruits and milk during this time. At night, prayer is offered at the various temples of Lord Shiva and a special ritual of 'Rudrabhisheka' is performed in which people bath the Lord with milk and present sweets and prayers. It is advised by priests and experts to meditate on this day and to recite 'Om Namah Shivaya' as many times as one can during the whole day. Those women who are married perform special prayer and rituals on this day for the good health and well being of their husbands.
Celebration of Maha Shivaratri in different states
All over India, Lord Shiva is worshipped in various temples of which the most famous are Kalahasteeswara temple in Kalahasti, Andhra Pradesh, Umananda Temple situated in the peacock island amidst the Brahmaputra river in Assam, Bhutnath Temple in Himachal Pradesh, Matangeshwar temple in Madhya Pradesh and Tarkeshwar temple in West Bengal. Infamous Sidhlingappa's fair is organised during Maha Shivratri in Karnataka.In Kashmir, Maha Shivratri is also referred as 'Hayrath' or Vatuk puja after which a ritual of exchanging gifts is commonly observed among the local Hindus residing there.
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