What is MahaShivratri? • MahaShivratri is celebrated in grand scale by the followers of Lord Shiva. • Maha means “great”, Shiv is for “Lord Shiva” and Ratri means “night”. • MahaShivratri means ‘great night of Lord Shiva’. • People stay up the whole night singing songs in praise of Lord shiva, performing abhishek (sacred bathing) of the shivling.
Who is Lord Shiva? • Shiv means “The auspicious one”. • Lord Shiv is one of the three forms of God. • Lord Brahma is creator of the universe • Lord Vishnu maintain the universe • Lord Shiva looks after the annihilation of the universe. • His abode is Mount Kailash in Himalaya mountains, where He lives with His divine consort, • Goddess Parvati, engaged in • deep meditation.
How does Shiva look? • Lord Shiv is clad in tiger skin & wears snakes as an ornament. • His hair is tied in a knot on top of His head, where he holds the holy river Ganga. • On his head is the crescent of the fifth day moon. • His favorite weapon is the trishul, or the trident fork. • He loves the sound from the beating of damru, a small drum that he holds in His palm. • He rides on the bull Nandi.
Why is MahaShivratri celebrated? Different parts of country celebrate MahaSivaratri for different reasons. • Some consider this day to be the one when Lord Shiv married Parvati. Some temples in India celebrate by reenacting the divine marriage at midnight. • For some, It is the day when Lord Shiv drank all the poison which came out from the churning of ocean. Lord Shiv drank and confined it in his neck, to save the world , earning His name Neelkanth. So, it is the day of thanksgiving to Lord Shiva for saving the world. • For others, this is day when Lord Shiva danced the tandava dance all through night. Dancing form of Shiva is called Nataraj.
Offering to Lord Shiva • Lord Shiva is known as “Abhishek Priya”. • He loves being bathed by milk, yogurt, ghee, honey, Vibhooti(sacred ash), water and other cooling stuff, since it helps cool down the effect of poison He holds in His throat.
Story Siva’s favorite is the sacred leaf, known as Bilva or Bael. There is a story about it. • Once a hunter was returning home through the jungle, and found himself being chased by a tiger. • He climbed up a tree, but tiger would not give up and sat under the tree. • As night fell, the hunter was scared that he would fall down in the sleepiness so, started to plucking the leaves from the tree and throwing them down ,to pass the time. • That night happened to be MahaShivratri, and tree happened to be a bilva tree. • Moreover, there was a lingam underneath the tree, and the leaves plucked by hunter rained on the Lingam all night long. • Lord Shiva was so pleased with the offering, that He appeared in front of the hunter. • Such is the power of bilva leaves to Lord Shiva on MahaShivratri!
What is Shivling? • Shivling word is made up of two words- Shiv +ling. • Shiv means “auspicious” and ling comes from Sanskrit word lingam means “mark” or “symbol”. • Shivlingor Shivlingam is a symbol of Lord Shiva worshipped in many temples.
Celebration of Mahashivratri • All over the India, people wake up early in the morning and take bath in holy rivers if possible. • After that, they begin their prayers to Lord Shiva and keep fast. • The whole day is spent in chanting the Lord’s name and when night falls, devotees visit the temple to participate in the abhishek. Most temples are open all night long on this day. • Singing songs, along with other devotees makes it easier to stay awake, and so Shivratri is a community festival.