Maha Shivaratri is an India festival celebrated throughout India and Nepal. Maha Shivaratri literally refers to the “Great night of shiva”. It is believed that Lord Shiva got married to Goddess Parvati on this day. People celebrate the festival by offering prayers to Lord Shiva on this day. There is huge rush of Hindu devotees outside Shiva temples on this day.
Legends of Maha Shivaratri
As per the most popular legend, it was on this day that Lord Shiva and Parvati got married. Thus, the day symbolized union of Shiva and shakti. Second legend states that on this day Lord Shiva performed Tandava. Third legend behind this festival as stated in Linga Purana states that on this day Lord Shiva took the form of Linga. Another mythological story behind Maha Shivaratri is that once during churning of sea by gods and demons a pot full of poison came out. All the gods got worried that this poison can end all the life on earth and thus approached Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva drank the poison but held it in his throat. As a result, the life on earth was saved. From that day onwards, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on this day.
Traditions and customs of Maha Shivaratri
Married women pray to Lord Shiva on this day to get happy married life. Unmarried girls pray to him to get an ideal husband like him. Males also offer prayers on this day. It is because of the fact that it is believed that anyone who worships Lord Shiva on this day gets free from the cycle of life and birth. There is a reference to importance of this festival in mythological books as well. Once goddess Parvati asked lord Shiva about which was the best day to offer prayers to him and he suggested the day of Maha Shivaratri.
On the day of Maha Shivaratri people visit Shiva temples. They perform the Linga snan with water or milk and chant “Om Namah Sivay”. “Jaagran” is also organized at night where devotees keep chanting Shiva Mantras.