Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the day is marked as the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. … The day is considered auspicious for spiritual growth. This year, Maha Shivratri falls on March 11, 2021.
This Hindu festival is celebrated all over the country and devotees worship Lord Shiva by offering milk, fruits, bel patra and other things. They line up at Shiv Temples to offer their prayers on this day and also observe fast (vrat).
History And Significance of MahaShivratri
There are many tales and folklore about how Maha Shivratri came into existence. According to common belief, on this day Lord Shiva drank the poison that came out from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan between gods and demons. He held the poison in his throat instead of swallowing it which made his throat turn blue. Shivji’s name ‘Neelkantha’ was derived from this incident.
This Hindu festival is especially very important for women as they worship Lord Shiva and seek blessings for their happy married life. They wear new clothes and observe fast. Unmarried women seek blessing to get a good husband. Also, it is believed that anyone who utters the name of Shiva during Shivratri with pure devotion is freed from all sins. He or she reaches the abode of Shiva and is liberated from the cycle of birth and death.
Maha Shivratri, literally translates as ‘the great night of Shiva’ and according to legend, it is on this night that Lord Shiva performs his heavenly dance or ‘tandav’. This year, the festival will start on March 11 at 2:39 pm and end at 3:02 pm of March 12.
Of the 12 Shivratris observed in any given year, Maha Shivratri is considered especially auspicious. Shivratri is supposed to be the night of convergence of Shiva and Shakti, which in essence mean the masculine and feminine energies that balance the world.
In Hindu culture, this is a solemn festival that marks the remembrance of ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance in life’. Different legends, throughout history, describe the significance of Maha Shivratri and according to one of them, it is on this night that Lord Shiva performs his cosmic dance of ‘creation, preservation and destruction’.
Another legend dictates that on this night, offerings of Lord Shiva’s icons can help one overcome and let go of their sins and start on the path of righteousness, allowing the individual to reach Mount Kailash and achieve ‘moksha’.
Celebration of MahaShivratri
Unlike a lot of Hindu festivals, Maha Shivratri is not an overtly joyous festival. This is a night reserved for self-reflection and introspection for the purpose of growing and leaving behind all things that hinder our success.
People all over the country celebrate Maha Shivratri according to the customs dictated in the region. Some celebrate in the morning, while other organise pujas and jagrans at night. Devotees also observe a full day fast on Maha Shivratri, eating only on the next day after bathing. The fast is observed not only to attain Lord Shiva’s blessings but also as a test of one’s own determination.