Maha Shivratri from Sanskrit “The Great Night of Shiva” is the most important event in India’s spiritual calendar. Maha Shivratri festival honors Lord Shiva, also known as “Mahadeva”. The Sanskrit term Mahadeva means "greatest deity," "most almighty god," or simply "supreme god." Lord Shiva is the oldest revered God in Hinduism and Maha Shivratri is a major festival which widely commemorates the conquering of darkness and ignorance in life, and is also the night of marriage between Shiva & Shakti (Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati) also known as Har-ratri or Haerath by Hindu devotees of the Kashmir region. This is the only religious festival celebrated for all night long in all the parts of the globe.
When is Mahashivratri in 2023? Date & Puja Timing
Maha Shivratri occurs on the 14th night of the New Moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna when Hindus offer special prayers to Lord Shiva who is the lord of destruction of evil and Maya or illusions. Mahashivratri 2023 falls on February 18th (Saturday), the date may vary depending the location and the time zone.
The devotee should fast from the morning of Maha Shivratri day and breakfast the next day. He may consume fruits and milk during this time. Fasting purifies not just your body but the consciousness too. When consciousness is purified, the person actually becomes focused and spiritually stronger.
About Mahashivratri Auspicious Times in 2023
Chaturdashi Tithi Begins: 08:02 PM on Feb 18, 2023 Chaturdashi Tithi Ends: 04:18 PM on Feb 19, 2023
Nishita Kaal Puja Time = 12:27 AM to 01:17 AM, Feb 19
First Prahar Puja Time (Night): 06:40 PM to 09:46 PM Second Prahar Puja Time (Night): 09:46 PM to 12:52 AM, Feb 19 Third Prahar Puja Time (Night): 12:52 AM to 03:58 AM, Feb 19 Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time: 03:58 AM to 07:05 AM, Feb 19
Why Mahashivratri is Celebrated? | Importance of Mahashivratri
Since ancient Vedic times, renowned saints (Brahmins) sought the blessings of Lord Shiva for moksha, legendary warriors (Kshatriyas) prayed to Him for honor, strength and bravery, merchants and traders (Vaishyas) worshipped him for wealth and profits, and the servant class (Shudras) worshipped Him for daily bread and butter. According to Srimad Bhagvatam (4.6.34), Lord Shiva is flanked by Lord Kubera,, the god of wealth and the four Kumaras, who are celibate and liberated souls. This denotes that the Supreme Lord Shiva is the sanctuary for both kinds of devotees, the ones who seek wealth and worldly pleasures, and the ones who seek liberation from miseries of the world. And this explain too why we celebrate Mahashivratri with so much eagerness regardless social caste or sect.
Maha Shivratri (with “Shivratri” also spelled as Shivaratri, Shivaratri, Shivaratri, Shivarathri or Shivarathri) is also held as the night when Lord Shiva is believed to have performed the Tandava Nritya, the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. On the night of Maha Shivratri, the human system experiences a natural upsurge of energy, an upward movement of liveliness. This night-long event which is celebrated annually is a unique occasion for whoever worships the Lord with true devotion to be freed of all sins and to be blessed with Nirvana or Moksha (liberation from the eternal cycle of life and death). As per the Vedas, the Universal Spiritual energy generated by the most favorable planetary positions which are at its peak during this night. Hence, the importance of Mahashivratri observance during this day and night held for millenia.
The Maha Mrityunjaya (Shiva) mantra (life-force awakening prayer) hailed by the sages as the core of the Vedas, Rig Veda (Mandala VII, Hymn 59) the most highly praised prayer in Hinduism, along with Gayatri mantra, and other chants and Lord Shiva mantras, are recited to the Lord continually throughout the day and the night of Maha Shivratri. On this time, worshipping Lord Shiva and performing Maha Shivratri puja has a profound impact on the Supreme Lord’s devotees. On the auspicious night of Maha Shivratri devotees glorify, honor and worship Lord Shiva with sanctifying rituals throughout the night. Unlike other Hindu celebrations, which incorporate cultural merriment, Maha Shivratri is traditionally deemed a serious festival renowned for its introspective concentration, fasting, meditation, self-study, communal peace, and all-night devotion to the Lord.
Today, Maha Shivratri is rapidly spreading in different cultures around the world because of its unparalleled spiritual importance, regardless of religion, and also because it involves massive gatherings of people of all ages during all night long, at the Lord’s temples and other sacred Shiva spaces, accompanied by traditional dance and music. Mahashivratri importance can be felt worldwide.
Thousands of Saints flock to major Shiva temples in India and Nepal, where local governments distribute the majority of bhang to Sadhus for the entire day and night celebration, making this festival into a multi-cultural party surrendering to the intoxication of devotion to the Supreme Lord.
Devotees who worship Lord Shiva with true devotion on Maha Shivratri are freed from all sins and are blessed with health, wealth and success.
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Maha Shivratri, revered as the most auspicious night (Shiva means "the auspicious one"), gives profound repose to the mind and the soul. When your mind and soul are elevated and flourish, you are able to transcend everything and achieve the ultimate state of existence known as Shiva. According to our ancient scriptures and Vedas, the observance of Maha Shivratri ceremonies is compulsory.
For those on the spiritual path, Maha Shivratri is very significant. It is also crucially significant for those crossing through familial difficulties, as well as those who are ambitious in the world. Maha Shivratri is celebrated as Lord Shiva's wedding anniversary by those who live in families. Those with worldly desires see that day as the day Shiva defeated all his adversaries. Hence, we see that the significance of Mahashivratri may vary depending upon circumstances and stories.
In Hinduism, Maha Shivratri has its own significance. The God of All Gods (Mahadeva) and Lord of All Existence has selected this day to bestow his precious blessings on his true devotees. Countless Saints and Sadhus have said that this day is amazingly magical, capable of eradicating the most powerful bad forces. According to astrological experts, the planetary configurations on this day are such that all of the chakras of the human body become more balanced, allowing for any favorable event to occur. Evils like as desire, rage, and jealousy, which are born of Rajas and Tamas, are subdued. The devotees' bodies are said to change towards divinity when they complete the Maha Shivratri fast. In several regions of the nation, young, unmarried females fast in the hope of finding a gorgeous, kind, and loving husband like Lord Shiva.
On the auspicious night of Maha Shivratri, devotees remain up all night long. They offer poojas, meditate, and recite Vedic mantras. These spiritual activities instill a feeling of calm and oneness inside ourselves as well as with the rest of the planet. Meditation and resignation are the greatest ways to celebrate Maha Shivratri. Turning inwards allows you to connect with something more than your mind and intellect. This experience transports us to the fourth level of consciousness, also known as Shiva awareness. Thus, surrender means having confidence that there is a divine force watching over us and taking care of us. Meditation, resignation (rather than resistance) and surrender offer us serenity and comfort during this night.
During this sacred Shiva's vigil night, Maha Shivratri, we are brought to the point of transition between destruction and regeneration; it represents the night when we must reflect on that which watches the growth out of decay. During Maha Shivaratri, we must be alone with our swords and the Shiva inside us. We must look back and forward to discover what evil needs to be eradicated from our hearts and what development of virtue needs to be encouraged. Shiva is not just present outside of us, but also inside us. Recognizing the Shiva within us requires us to merge with the One Self.
Thus, Maha Shivratri dispels ignorance, emits the light of knowledge, connects one to the cosmos, brings in spring after a long, cold, and dry winter, and awakens the ultimate power to take cognizance of all the creatures He created. This could be reckoned as a comprehensive way to realize the significance of Mahashivratri and it makes us understand why Mahashivratri is celebrated, and most importantly why do we celebrate Mahashivratri as we become part of the huge celebrations.
Maha Shivratri is the night of Lord Shiva. He may be found everywhere there is beauty, truth, and goodness. Lord Shiva is regarded as the ultimate harbor for followers seeking both financial and spiritual fulfillment. People all throughout the globe are looking forward to finding comfort and inner peace now more than ever. As the world prepares for fresh beginnings and awakenings, Maha Shivratri could not come at a better moment.
Lord Shiva & Maha Shivratri
The Shiva principle is the summum bonum of all creation and permeates the whole cosmos. This principle, known as Shiva Tattva, is the essence of life and may be found deep inside every living entity. But we forget that we have this ability inside ourselves. Maha Shivratri serves as a reminder to seek shelter in Shiva which is the source of all serenity, infinity, beauty, and non-duality. You seek shelter in Shiva because Shiva is your actual essence. And the very essence of Maha Shivratri is to celebrate the Shiva Tattva inside oneself.
All of us are propelled by an unknown and unexplained force. Scientists have not yet been able to name it. However, ancient saints referred to this unknowable force as Shiva. He is the force that is said to give life to all living things. Because of Shiva, we can breathe, eat, move, and go about our daily lives. This energy not only drives living organisms, but it also exists as energy in non-living objects. As a result, Shiva propels existence. Mahashivratri significance is then existential.
During Maha Shivratri, Shiva Tattva, which is normally 10 inches above ground, makes touch with the Earth. While swirling energy upwards, Shiva Tattva, or our awareness or aura, falls and contacts the tangible earth. Nature is driving you to your spiritual peak on this night. Ratri denotes 'night' as well as 'to take refuge.' Shivratri is the night when we take refuge in Shiva, the all-pervading force that penetrates the whole universe and is present in all living things. Our soul and Lord Shiva are inseparable. Both are the same. That's what we're made of. We discover these greater attributes within ourselves when we worship Lord Shiva.
As a result, Shiva isn't what we imagine God to be, based on our preconceived notions or expectations; Shiva represents the Supreme Reality as it actually is, independent of any specific religion, philosophy, book, idea, institution or ideology. No matter what we think or believe, the intellect cannot come up with a formula or framework that can grasp the Shiva principle, as there is no bucket in which He can be placed. He fills the cosmos to overflowing on all sides, both internal and external. He is the ultimate unity's energy, greater than the sum of its parts, and he wields the combined might of all dualities at the same time.
Maha Shivratri is a festival that honors the Shiva Tattva inside us. We honor Shiva Tattva by reaching deep inside ourselves, meditating, and rejoicing in the Shiva spirit. Maha Shivratri is a time to relax not just the body, but also the mind and ego. It is customary to remain awake. Maha Shivratri is a wake-up call for the whole world to turn away from strife and toward beauty, love, and truth.
What is the Science behind Mahashivratri?
On Maha Shivratri, the Sun and Moon align in such a manner that our body's Vata component is awakened. During this time of the year, activity is at its peak. Vata is one of three bodily components, the other two being Pitta and Kapha. The component directly associated with movement in the body is Vata.
As a result, Vata has a direct influence on the following:
1. On a physical level (Sthula), Vata influences the nerve system and regulates all physiological activity. 2. At the cellular level (Sookshma), Vata "moves" nutrients into the body while also "moving" wastes out of the cell. 3. In the natural plane (Karana), Vata aids in the retrieval of information from memory and the understanding of cause and effect.
Such is the consequence of Vata. Even modest Vata imbalances have a significant impact on the processes described above. A Vata imbalance causes fatigue, discouragement, forgetfulness, a poor temperament, depression, aggression, mood swings, and, in severe instances, anti-social and suicidal inclinations.
The northern hemisphere of the globe is positioned in such a way on this night that there is a natural rising flow of energy in humans, which balances Vata. This is a day when nature is pushing you to reach your spiritual top. Keeping the spine straight and vertical on Maha Shivratri night while remaining awake throughout the night with this vertical spine posture offers enormous benefits for the human body, as it allows this natural uprising of energies to find their path. As a result, the body and the mind find equilibrium in all of its modes and components while waking the entire system, activating the Third Eye (Ajna) Chakra for a deeper dimensional perception of yourself and your environment.
Unlike other festivals featuring consumption of food after rituals, Maha Shivratri Vrat happens throughout the whole day and night. Scientifically, fasting detoxifies your body and purifies the mind. It makes you feel lighter in your body with your mind becoming stable, less fickle and more alert (attentive) too. With a focused mind, one is better prepared for meditation.
When the mind and body are purified and energized as it happens on this night, the strength of taking sankalpa (intentions) also increases. Fasting starts in the morning and ends the next morning after Maha Shivratri. Some devotees fast without water while some observe moderate fasting with fruits and water or easily digestible food to keep the body and the soul together.
Aside from legends, the reason this day and night are so revered is because of the opportunities they give to a spiritual seeker. Modern science has progressed through many stages and is now attempting to demonstrate that everything you know as life, everything you know as matter as well as existence, and all you know as the universe and galaxies, is all simply one energy that expresses itself in millions of ways.
According to modern Astrology, the Earth's centrifugal upliftment is at its highest around 11 degrees North latitude (i.e. North hemisphere) due to the oscillation performed by Earth around the Sun. The Moon's gravitational influence is also at its strongest on this night. As previously stated, this causes an increase in whole body fluid in an upward direction, towards the brain.
The brain performs better when it gets this quantity of oxygenated blood. Even though the influence of this gravitational pull is little, it has a profound effect on the person, because the brain cannot function properly in either low or high blood flow conditions. Ancient seers said that any meditation practiced on the day of Maha Shivratri will be more successful than on any other day of the year.
Immediately after Maha Shivratri, the trees start to blossom bountiful flowers announcing that after winter, the fertility of the earth has been rejuvenated.
Conduct Special Shiva Pujas in Trimbakeshwar on Mahashivratri 2023
Maha Shivratri is deemed a highly auspicious occasion for women. On this night married women pray for the long life and well-being and good health of their husbands and sons. Unmarried women pray for the ideal husband, like Lord Shiva, the husband of Kali, Parvati and Durga.
On Maha Shivratri, many women fast and worship Lord Shiva in order to satisfy him and his wife, Parvati. Women wash the Shiva lingam with milk, water, and honey early in the morning. Then they provide Lord Shiva's favorite goods, such as Bel Patra, fruits, Dhatura, flowers, and so on. Actually, is today observed that Abhishekam of milk at Shiva temples on this night is mostly done by women.
Women fast all day and sing songs in the Lord’s honor. It has been observed that assuming the name of Shiva with complete devotion derives on Lord Shiva fulfilling all women's wishes on this night.Additionally, it is held that anyone who sincerely utters the name of Shiva or does Shiva mantra japa during Maha Shivratri attains Moksha.
Mahashivratri Story | Origin & History of Maha Shivratri
According to anecdotal recorded history, the event originated during the 5th century CE, as per the Julian calendar. However, this is simply an estimate and a conservative date of when the festival started to be held in Hindu’s calendar of yearly celebrations and to be seen largely commemorated by the people, since there is evidence of very early Lord Shiva worship going back to the Indus Valley civilisation, which lasted between 2500 BCE and 5000 BCE, according to various archeological research and surveys. Prior to these periods, ancient Shiva temples have been discovered in recent archaeological excavations, confirming the ancient adoration of the Lord. Astrological knowledge of the Maha Shivratri exact timing goes all the way back much farther in antiquity, and sages and saints have worshiped Lord Shiva from immemorial times. Therefore, we cannot determine with precision when Maha Shivratri observations began, as it might have occurred thousands of years before what archeological findings have shown thus far.
The Hindu calendar designates the 14th day of the dark half of each lunar month (when the Moon is waning) as Shivaratri (Shiva night). The Shivaratri in the month of Magha (February-March) is the most important of all, and it is known as Maha Shivratri (Great Shiva night) and is celebrated with a celebration all over the world. This festival and the power connected to it are described in several stories in the Skanda, Lingam, and Padma Puranas. It is stated that once, a hunter unwittingly fasted, watched over, and bathed a Shiva Lingam all night, not realizing it was Maha Shivratri. For this simple deed, he was rewarded by being taken directly to Lord Shiva's abode.
Maha Shivratri is the only major Hindu festival that is not accompanied by revelry and gaiety. It has been observed for millennia as a solemn event emphasizing restraint; followers make pledges such as forgiveness, truth telling, and non-injury to other beings, which must be honored for the entire 24 hours. Fasting and staying awake all night in order to worship Lord Shiva are ancient and historically important aspects of the night-long observance. Devotees have spent this night for ages reciting Lord Shiva universal mantra, Om Namah Shivay, and praying for forgiveness. It is historically acknowledged that if the ceremonies are carefully completed, the devotee will be rewarded with worldly success as well as entry into the heavenly realm of the Supreme Lord Shiva.
The relevance of dance tradition to this celebration has ancient origins. Maha Shivratri has served as a historic convergence of artists for yearly dance festivals at important Hindu temples. This event is called Natyanjali, meaning "worship through dance", at the Chidambaram temple which is famed for its sculpture displaying all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu canon of performing arts called Natya Shastra. Similarly, in Khajuraho Shiva temples, a mammoth market and dance event on Maha Shivaratri has been reported from 1864.
Puja rituals on Maha Shivratri primarily involve traditional Shivalingam worship. Shiva devotees wake up early in the morning and take a ritualistic bath (bathing in holy rivers like Ganga is considered highly auspicious on this day). One can also take bath with water mixed with sesame seeds. Ancient scriptures mention that adding sesame seeds to the bathing water purifies the body and the soul.
Once done, devotees visit their nearest Shiva Temple for Shivalingam Abhishek or giving the Lingam a customary bath. It is the main form of Puja to Lord Shiva.
The Hindu Kashmir area historically holds Maha Shivratri as a long-drawn festival, which is performed as an elaborate ceremony for a whole week, and connected with the advent of Bhairava (Shiva) as a Jwala-Linga, or a linga of flame. Tantric texts refer to it as Bhairavotsava because on this occasion, Bhairava and Bhairavi, His Shakti or cosmic force, are propitiated by Tantric worship.
On the occasion of Maha Shivratri, hundreds of thousands of devotees visit the Pashupatinath Shiva Temple in Kathmandu (Nepal) too, one of Hinduism's holiest sites in the world. Pashupatinath is revered as the protector and guardian of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal. All night long, devotees recite "Om Namah Shivay" and "Maha Mrityunjaya " mantras, hoping for light to triumph over darkness.
Stories & Legends of Maha Shivratri
The story of Mahashivratri is multifarious. There are many legends around Maha Shivratri festival. According to a very popular one, after the Earth’s creation was complete, Parvati asked Lord Shiva about the kind of rituals or worship that pleased Him the most. Lord Shiva replied that worshiping Him with Bel patra on the 14th day of the waning moon in the month of Phalgun by His devotees pleases Him the most. Goddess Parvati reiterated this to Her friends and the word spread this way in all directions. Maha Shivaratri is considered a propitious and mesmerizing night when all followers of Lord Shiva must take refuge in Him to rid themselves of miseries and sufferings. Devotees all over the world wait for this holy night to seek the blessings from the Supreme Lord.
Legend from the Puranas
According to the Kurma Purana, Vayu Purana, and Shiva Purana, once Brahma and Vishnu, the other two Hindu Gods, were fighting over each other's prowess. The other gods were terrified by the intensity of the battle and asked Shiva to intervene. To make them realize the hopelessness of their fight, Lord Shiva took the form of a flaming Linga and stood between Brahma and Vishnu, challenging both of them to measure the gigantic Lingam (symbol of Lord Shiva).
Brahma and Vishnu, awestruck by its enormity, went to seek one end each to establish superiority over the other. Lord Brahma coverted into a swan and then flew upwards, whereas Lord Vishnu took the form of Varaha, a boar, and flew into the earth towards the nether land. Both tried to search for thousands of miles but came up empty-handed.Lord Brahma came across the Ketaki flower on his ascension. Exhausted and perplexed by his search for the uppermost limit of the fiery column, Brahma convinced Ketaki that he had seen the top of the column of fire where the flower had previously resided. Brahma confronted Vishnu, accompanied by his accomplice, and claimed that he had discovered the origin of the cosmic column.
The central section of the pillar split open at this point, revealing Shiva in all his glory. Overwhelmed, both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before Lord Shiva, accepting his supremacy. Lord Shiva also clarified to Brahma and Vishnu that they were both born from him and that the three were then separated into three different aspects of the same divinity. Rudra Abhishekham is performed at midnight of Maha Shivratri to worship the formless Supreme Sadashiv.
Shiva and Shakti's Marriage
The legend of Shiva and Shakti's marriage is one of the most prominent stories associated with the Maha Shivratri celebration. Maha Shivratri commemorates the day Lord Shiva wedded Parvati (Sati), according to Shaiva and Shakta traditions. According to this legend, Sati's father Daksha organized a yagna but did not invite Sati nor Shiva since he had a dispute with Shiva in Brahma's court. Sati, on the other hand, proceeded to the Yagna despite Lord Shiva's displeasure with the idea. Daksha disregarded her presence and did not even give Prasad for Shiva, much to her distress. Sati was mortified and overawed with sadness. She leaped into the yagna fire and set herself on fire.
When Lord Shiva learned about Sati's immolation, he got immensely enraged. Carrying Sati's corpse, Shiva launched Rudra Tandava, or the dance of destruction, and wiped out the kingdom of Daksha. Everyone was afraid since Shiva's Tandava has the ability to destroy the whole cosmos. Vishnu split Sati′s corpse into 12 pieces and threw them on Earth to pacify Lord Shiva. It is stated that wherever the fragments of Shakti's body fell, a Shakti Peetha arose, such as the Kamaroopa Kamakhya in Assam and the Vindhyavasini in Uttar Pradesh.
Lord Shiva, who was now alone, performed penance and withdrew to the Himalayas. Sati reincarnated as Parvati in the household of Himalaya’s king. She underwent penance in order to disrupt Shiva's concentration and get his attention. It is stated that Parvati, who was having difficulty breaking Shiva's concentration, sought the assistance of Kamadeva, the God of Love and Passion. Kamadeva requested Parvati to dance in front of Shiva. When Parvati began to dance, Kamadeva fired his arrow of passion at Shiva, breaking his penance. Shiva got enraged, opening his third eye and reducing Kamadeva to ashes. Lord Shiva consented to resurrect Kamadeva only after Rati, Kamadeva's wife, begged him. However, after this arrow touched the Lord, later Shiva married Goddess Parvati.
In order to win over Shiva, Parvati performed great penance. She is also known as Uma, and she was ultimately able to entice Shiva into marriage and aside from asceticism thanks to her devotion and the influence of the devas. Their wedding took place a day before Amavasya in the month of Phalgun. Every year, Maha Shivratri commemorates the union of God Shiva and Goddess Parvati, this is when Lord Shiva was transformed from a "Nirgun Brahman" to a "Sagun Brahman".
According to another story behind Mahashivratri, on the auspicious moonless night of Maha Shivratri, Goddess Parvati conducted tapas and prayers to fend off any misfortune that could befall her husband. Since then, ladies have made it a ritual to pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons on Maha Shivaratri. Unmarried women pray for a husband same as Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the perfect husband.
It is believed that Parvati followed strict penance for Lord Shiva. She is the Energy of the Active (Shiva). Regarded as Shakti or Bhavani, She is the protector, the destroyer (of pure evil) and regenerator of the universe and all life. In the Rig Veda, she is mentioned as Ambika, Rudrani and Uma.
Legend of Samudra Manthan
According to the legend of Samundra Manthan, the churning of the milk-ocean was a time-consuming procedure. Mount Mandara served as the churning rod, while Vasuki, King of Serpents, served as the churning rope. Lord Vishnu had to intervene in a variety of ways to help the Devas. All types of plants were thrown into the ocean, and the water created many enormous creatures and items that were split between asuras and gods. Sura or Varuni, the goddess and creator of wine, is thought to have sprung from the Samudra Manthan. Apsaras are numerous celestial nymphs who are said to be Apsaras. Kaustubha, the world's most precious gem, is reported to be a unique diamond. Uchhaishravas, commonly known as the celestial white horse, is a Hindu deity. The wish-granting tree, Kalpavriksha. Kamadhenu, the wish-granting cow. Lakshmi, the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth, and Airavata, also known as the white elephant. Vishnu and Her were reunited after being apart for a long time.
Nevertheless, during the Sagar Manthan event by the gods and demons, haalaa-hala, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. This poison was so deadly that its effects would have wiped out the whole creation, which horrified the Gods and devils. On Lord Vishnu's suggestion, the Gods contacted Lord Shiva for help and protection, since only He could drink it without being harmed. Lord Shiva took the poison at the request of the gods and out of compassion for sentient creatures. However, Parvati, Lord Shiva's spouse, held his neck, preventing the poison from reaching his stomach. As a result, it remained in his neck, neither rising nor falling, and Shiva was uninjured. This poison was so powerful that it turned Lord Mahadeva's neck blue. As a result, Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha (the blue-necked one), where 'Neela' refers to blue and 'Kantha' refers to the neck or throat.
Doctors recommended the gods to keep Lord Shiva awake at night as part of the treatment. As a result, the gods remained vigilant in adoration of Lord Shiva. The gods took turns performing different dances and playing music to entertain and keep Shiva awake. As the sun rose, Lord Shiva, delighted with their devotion, bestowed blessings on them all. Maha Shivratri commemorates the moment in which Lord Shiva rescued the world. Since then, devotees fast, keep vigil, chant Lord's praises, and meditate on this day and night.
Lord Shiva saved the whole world and humanity by consuming the poison Halahal, which emerged as a byproduct from the churning of Kshir Sagar or the milky ocean. With His immense Yogic powers, He was able to stop the poison in His throat. The effect of the poison was such that it turned His throat blue and He became known as Neelkantha, the Blue Throated one.
Yet as per another legend, it is on this night that Shiva performed the Tandava, the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. Shiva performs it in His two manifestations; Rudra Tandava featuring His violent nature and Ananda Tandava depicting His blissful form. The Tandava Dance represents the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction and the rhythm of birth and death.
Shiva's Tandava is supposed to have two manifestations. The first is Ananda Tandava, which represents a pleasant dance, and the second is Rudra Tandava, which represents a destructive dance. Lord Shiva is known as the 'Nataraja,' or Lord of Dance. Dancing has long been seen as a means of communing with the Creator in Indian culture. Shiva's dance represents union with God via the holy act of dancing. Shiva's cosmic dance is also known as 'Ananda Tandava,' or the Dance of Bliss, and it signifies the universal cycles of creation and demolition.
The Tandava is the subject of several legends. The first is about Apasmara, a dwarf-demon. Apasmara was a dwarf who symbolized ignorance. Apasmara could not be murdered in order to preserve knowledge throughout the world. To do so would upset the balance of knowledge and ignorance, since killing Apasmara would imply obtaining knowledge without exerting any effort, devotion, or hard work to overcome ignorance. As a result, Apasmara became overconfident in his abilities and challenged Lord Shiva. Mahadeva then assumed the form of Nataraja and performed the legendary Tandava, or destruction dance, finally crushing Apasmara beneath His feet.
Goddess Sati is related with Tandava's second tale. Following Her father's insult to Her husband, Lord Shiva, the Goddess emolated herself in the yagna fire during Daksha's ceremony. When Lord Shiva learned about the occurrence, He got enraged. He sent his ferocious form, Veerabhadra, to demolish the yagna. Daksha's yagna was shattered, and his head was severed, by Veerabhadra. Following this, Lord Shiva was filled with sadness at Sati's death. He carried Her body on His shoulders and performed the Rudra Tandava. The cosmos was on the point of annihilation when Lord Vishnu intervened and, using His Sudarshan Chakra, chopped Sati's body into pieces in order to bring Lord Shiva to his senses.
The third story is about the introduction of the Tandava to humans. The Gods and Goddesses begged Lord Brahma to construct another veda that was simple enough for the average man to grasp. It is claimed that in response to this request, Lord Brahma produced the Panchamaveda (fifth veda), which later became known as Natyaveda, an amalgamation of the previous four vedas. It is thought that the fifth veda, Natyaveda, was formed by combining pathya (words) from the Rigveda, abhinaya (gesture) from the Yajurveda, geet (music and chant) from the Samaveda, and rasa (sentiment and emotional aspect) from the Atharvaveda.
Lord Brahma entrusted this Natyaveda to sage Bharata after making it and ordered him to popularize it on Earth. Following Lord Brahma's remarks, sage Bharata composed Natyashastra, or the Science of Dramaturgy, a comprehensive treatise on the science and practice of Indian play, dance, and music. Bharatanatyam may have been named after the sage Bharata. It remains the most admired work on dance to this day.
Shiva dance depicts five major expressions of the everlasting energy: Srishti, or creation. Sthithi, or preservation. Samhara, or destruction. Tirobhava, or illusion, and Anugraha, or salvation. It also represents the everyday cycle of birth and death.
Scientific Significance of Shiva Dance
Shiva is the manifestation of Brahman, which is the divine Universe's actual existence and pure realization. Shiva's Cosmic Dance would represent an endless cycle of transformation. Shiva as Nataraja depicts a stunning and dazzling representation of the Universe's periodic or cyclical nature.
Nataraja is a depiction of Shiva, the Supreme God, as a cosmic blissful and ecstatic dancer. His dance is known as Lasya, but it is also known as Nadanta or Tandavam, depending on the context of the dance sequences.
The Nadanta, Shiva's dance, is symbolic of the interaction and embodiment of cosmic forces of nature and the pulse of electrical energy inside the cosmos. In the Nadanta dance, Shiva personifies the kinetic part of his holiness, the underlying force that creates, sustains, and finally destroys the whole cosmos. He is the embodiment of the Supreme Intelligence - the Divine Spirit - doing the Karma dance.
The opposite dance Tandava is a violent and hazardous dance that represents destruction. This devastation is related with the deconstruction of tired world ideas - tired viewpoints and tired lives. The essence is that the Lasya and Tandava are two aspects of Shiva's nature; he demolishes in order to build, pulling down in order to rebuild.
On His superb Nataraja portrayal which stands up as a murti at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the upper left hand holding a small drum represents "creation," fire on the upper right hand represents "destruction," the second right hand showing "abhaya mudra" represents "protection," and the second left hand pointing to his feet represents "salvation and grace," all within a ring of fire that represents a continuous cycle that holds all four known representations of the universe.
Nataraja also renders the five elements that comprise the universe visible. The Fire element is represented by the flame in his left hand. The Air element is represented by the damaru. The sound and vibration are made possible by the air within it. Furthermore, the snake around his neck symbolizes the air too, as the snake slithers in the same way that the air (oxygen) slinks down throughout our system. We can't see the fifth element, Akasha or Ether. It's the void between his steady right leg and his raised foot. The dwarf on whom He dances embodies the Earth element. And the Water element is represented by the goddess Ganga, who has matted his hair and is the font of the sacred Ganges river.
He does a dance on a small demon "muyalakan" that represents "ignorance." The imagery exemplifies - if any person places their "ignorance" at God's feet, God will safeguard them from the never-ending cycle of creation and destruction that leads to redemption.
As electrons spin around the immovable nucleus of the atom, the Nataraja picture of Dancing Shiva signifies a center around which the forces of the universe revolve. The dancing and playful Shiva represents the universe, which is always pulsating and shifting and is never static, as explained by scientists of CERN.
Lord Shiva's dance position reflects the growth of the Universe. Natya sastra and shilpa sastra reveal 108 different styles of Lord Shiva dance forms known as Karanas. These illustrate the many luminescent atoms or ‘anu’ that have been distributed around the Universe throughout its creation and evolution.
Mahashivratri Fast(Vrat) Rules & Procedures
Fasting is a significant spiritual activity during Maha Shivratri. During this time, you may have fruits and milk. Fasting, as previously stated, cleanses not only your body but also your mind. When one's consciousness is cleaned, he or she becomes more focused and spiritually stronger. Maha Shivaratri fasting time is observed from the early morning of Maha Shivratri until the next day’s morning.
When you take neither water nor any food, it is Nirjala Upavas.
When you skip breakfast but has lunch and dinner, it is Prat Upavas. (Prat means morning)
When you have one meal during the day and skip dinner, it is called Adhopvas.
When you eat just one type of food (e.g. only rice at lunch), it is called Ekaharopvas.
When you take only liquids like juices of fruits/vegetables (not milk or cereals), it is called Rasopavas.
When you take only fruits and cooked vegetables, it is called Falopavas.
When you take only milk (four to five times), it is called Dughdopavas.
When you avoid ghee and other sour items, it is called Takropavas.
Types of Food for Maha Shivratri Fasting:
Sattvic Natural and fresh foods which don’t require processing. Like Fruits, vegetables and milk.
Rajasic: Food which requires mild processing for edibility. Excessively oily or spicy or sweetened or salty food items are included in this.
Tamasic: Rotten or preserved or packaged food items which require a lot of processing to be consumed. Like all forms of meats, eggs. Food which consists of a lot of onion or garlic and are cooked in vinegar or alcohol are also included in this.
Wearing & Buying Rudraksha on Maha Shivratri
This is the best time of the year to start wearing Rudraksha, the mystical beads dearest to Lord Shiva. Rudraksha beads have emanated from the tears of Lord Shiva himself. Shiva says in Padma Purana that “I am Shiva because of Rudraksha”. It is also stated the even Rudra attained Rudrahood only after wearing Rudraksha beads. Saints achieve the ultimate truth and Brahma attains Brahamatava. Thus, there is nothing higher than wearing Rudraksha beads in this world. Just like Vishnu amongst men, Surya amongst all the planets, Ganga among rivers, Kashyap among human, Shiva amongst all Gods, Parvati amongst all Goddesses is Highest and Praised.
Similarly, Rudraksha is the Highest amongst All. Hence there is no Sloka or fast above Rudraksha. ‘Rudraksha’ means Rudra (Lord Shiva). The root word Rud means ‘to wail’; Rudra means the one who wails, howls or roars. Similarly, rud in Sanskrit also means ‘being red’ leading to ‘red, intense, and brilliant’.
Rudraksha commonly come from 1 to 21 Mukhis, but Rudraksha of 1 to 14 Mukhis are commonly found. Rudraksha beads from 15 Mukhis to 21 Mukhis are rarer and mukhis above that are found in very few numbers every year. Of all these, 4,5 and 6 Mukhi Rudraksha beads are found easily and abundantly. Depending upon the availability and production of Rudraksha different prices have been allocated for different Mukhi Rudraksha. Read more
As per Vedic scriptures, 1 or Ek mukhi Rudraksha is Shiva Himself. 2 Mukhi is Ardhaneswar Shiva. 9 mukhi is Bhairava Shiva and it’s ruled by Goddess Durga. 11 mukhi is the manifestation of the eleven Rudras (Shiva’s offspring). 15 mukhi is Pashupatinath Shiva and 16 mukhi is Mrityunjaya Shiva. Thus, these particular mukhi Rudraksha beads are different manifestations of the Lord which can be worn on this night as single beads, bracelets, kanthas or malas.
How to Worship Shivalingam on Mahashivratri?
Shiva devotees perform Maha Shivratri Puja and Abhishek Vidhi all through the night. According to the Shiv Purana, the Shiva lingam should be bathed at an interval of every three hours on this night. People who perform four prahar Puja should do the Abhishek with water mixed with ganges water during the first Prahar, yoghurt/curd during the second Prahar, ghee in third prahar and honey in fourth prahar.
After performing the Abhishek rituals, the Shiva Linga should be adorned with garlands of bilva leaves. The reason behind using the Bilva leaves is that they elevate the devotees beyond the three gunas signified by the 3 leaves of the Bilva patra.
Procedure of Worship:
The linga is bathed with five sacred offerings from a cow - the ‘panchagavya’ comprising of milk, curd, cow urine, ghee and cow dung. In addition to these, fragrant substances such as sandalwood paste, rosewater and honey are also offered.
The Shiva Mantra "OM NAMAH SHIVAYA" is chanted during this entire ceremony.
After this, milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar (the 5 foods of immortality) are offered to the Shivling.
Sandalwood paste is then applied on the linga.
The leaves of Bilwa, Maredu and Wood apple trees are used for Shiv puja.
Bilwa leaves (there is a belief that Goddess Lakshmi resides in them) are offered on top of the Shivaling.
Ber or jujube fruit and beetle leaves are a special offering on this day.
The fruit and flower of Dhatura, though poisonous, is sacred to Shiva and thus used as an offering.
The Shivling is decorated with flowers and garlands. Incense and fruits are offered to the Lord.
How to Worship Shivling
Bathing the Shiva Linga with water, milk and honey and offering Woodapple or bel leaves
Represents purification of the soul
Applying sandalwood on Shiva Linga after bathing it
Purification and filling oneself with divine fragrance
Offering of fruits
Represents longevity and gratification of desires
Surrender of senses to the Higher Self
Lighting of the lamp
Attainment of knowledge
Offering betel leaves
Represents satisfaction with worldly pleasures
Applying Tripundra on forehead and Shivling (three horizontal stripes of holy ash)
Represents spiritual knowledge, purity and penance. (It also symbolizes the three eyes of Lord Shiva)
Bhajan Bhakti & Meditation on Maha Shivratri
Bhakti (Devotion), Bhajan (Devotional songs) and Dhyaan (Meditation) performed during Maha Shivratri increase spiritual strengths and attract the cosmic energy. The Shvetashvatara Upanishad defines ‘Bhakti’ as participation, devotion or dedication to an act. Just like Shiva Abhishek or Shiv Puja, hearing Bhajans or singing songs devoted to Lord Shiva is equally powerful. Those who cannot perform a Shiv Puja or Abhishek may do meditation. These are very beautiful ways how to celebrate Mahashivratri.
Lord Shiva is known as Adi Yogi and Maha Yogi for it is He who first imparted the knowledge of yoga and meditation to the descendants (humans) of Manu. Meditation on Shiva, His divine qualities and the divine sound OM drives away illusions from one’s mind. Meditation during Maha Shivratri is highly auspicious as the constellations form in the way that creates an atmosphere super-charged with Shambu Tattvas. Those who do not know what to do on Mahashivratri could simply turn inward to bhajan bhakti and dhyaan (meditation) on this night.
There are two types of meditation; Saguna and Nirguna. Saguna meditation includes focusing on the personal form of the deity. It is pleasing and joyfully performed. You can simply close your eyes and focus on the pleasing form of Lord Shiva. Nirguna meditation includes focusing on the impersonal feature of Shiva, the unmanifested aspect, formless, infinite, expansive and unchangeable form of Shiva. In this mediation, the meditator merges into the divine form of Shiva or assumes the same qualities that He has.
Mantras & Scriptural Reading on Maha Shivratri
Lord Shiva’s most known and “universal” mantra Om Namah Shivay is unceasingly chanted during the day and night of Maha Shivratri since immemorial times. This mantra can also be continuously played as a song in the background.
Other important Lord Shiva mantras are also chanted during Maha Shivratri, among these: Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Shiva Yajur mantra. Rudra Gayatri mantra. Lord Rudra mantra (Om Namo Bhagavate Rudraya) or Shiva Chalisa.
Holy scriptures to be readed and reflected upon on this day are among others: Shvetashvatara Upanishad. Shiva Sutras. Shiva Purana. Tirumurai. Shaiva Agamas.
The Mahashivratri festival provides an ideal opportunity to begin or teach these to the family's children, as well as to read these slowly and clearly to the family. And is another way how to celebrate Mahashivratri at home.
On the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivratri, recite lovely Shiva poetry. Lord Shiva poems inspires devotion and dedication to the Lord and attune us for receiving His blessings.
Likewise, Lord Shiva’s stotrams as Shiva Tandava are joyfully chanted in absolutely gorgeous dance performances during this holy night.
Midnight Meditation on Maha Shivratri
The most important aspect of Maha Shivratri is that Mahadev emerged in the shape of 'Lingodbhav Moorti' at exactly midnight time on Maha Shivratri. Because this is said to be the first time Shiva assumed the shape of a Lingam, the day is known as Maha Shivratri. On this day, worshiping Shiva in his Shivalingam form gives a lot of happiness and fortune, and thus, Rudra Abhishekam is traditionally conducted, especially during this midnight Sandhya kala.
Other devotees opt for midnight meditation instead. Midnight meditation should be practiced at midnight in your time zone and should begin 20 minutes prior. This meditation can be done in complete stillness within yourself, with other family members around, or also in groups or larger gatherings of devotees too.
Maha Shivratri 2023 Maha Puja Vidhi
* Devotees wake up soon in the morning and bathe in water laced with sesame seeds. According to ancient scriptures, adding sesame seeds to bath water cleanses both the body and the soul. Those who are able to do so prefer to bathe in the holy Ganges river instead.
* Devotees fast for the entire day and break the fast only on the next day. It is also recommended that one should have only one meal a day before Maha Shivratri to ensure that there are no remains of any undigested food within the body during fasting. The fast of the Maha Shivaratri celebration is particularly difficult, and devotees should refrain from taking food in any manner while fasting. Though many fasts allow for the consumption of fruits and milk throughout the day, in the strictest version of the Puja, participants do not even drink water.
* Abhishek is the main form of Puja to Lord Shiva. This is performed with various supplies like rose water, yogurt, ghee, milk, honey, sugar, Gangajal water and juices and other several offerings. The Puja can be done either one time or four times in the whole night. Read complete Abhishek Procedure here.
* People who perform four prahar Puja should do the Abhishek with water mixed with ganges water during the First Prahar, yoghurt/curd during the Second Prahar, ghee in the Third Prahar and honey in the Fourth Prahar. After performing the Abhishek rituals, the Shiva Lingam should be decorated with bilva leaf garlands. The Bilva leaves are used because they raise worshippers above the three gunas represented by the three leaves of the Bilva patra.
* After adorning the Shiva Lingam with Bilva garland, Chandan and ashtagandha is applied and Dhoop is lighted. Then other items like Madar flower, Vibhuti also called as Bhasm are offered to the Shiva Lingam.
* Throughout the puja ritual, one must chant the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya”. The fast should be broken only on the next day of Shivratri after having bath before Chaturdashi Tithi ends. This way most benefit of the Vrat is obtained.
Chanting Shiva Mantras
Chanting Shiva mantras on Maha Shivratri is best and the effects multiply manifold when done on this day. The best mantras are:
ॐ नम: शिवाय॥ Om Namah Shivay॥
“I bow to Almighty Shiva who is the supreme reality, the inner Self”
It is the root mantra chanted in remembrance of All-auspicious Shiva but going deeper, the mantra means a lot. Namah used in middle means "I am not ego" but only Shiva. In self-realization, it means I am none other than Shiva. Further Namah in simple words refers to worshipping. But when you divide the word Namaha as Na and Maha, it denotes "not mine". I am not mine. I am submissive to the Lord; I belong to the Lord (Shiva). Nothing is mine. I am in Shiva and Shiva is in me.
Vedic literatures like Shiva Purana calls Him Bholenath, the one who is quickly delighted and fulfills His devotees’ wishes. Anyone can chant this mantra at a silent place to approach Him with humbleness and devotion.
“OM! We worship the Three-eyed Lord Who is fragrant and Who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As the ripened cucumber (with the intervention of the gardener) is freed from its bondage (to the creeper), may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality.”
It is one of the most sacred and highly powerful and revered mantras mentioned in the Rig Veda and Yajur Veda. It offers protection against untimely death. This mantra charges your mental, emotional and physical health and is known for bestowing longevity and immortality. The Puranas mention that powerful saints, sages and devotees always recited this mantra. When Daksha, father of Shiva’s wife Sati, cursed Chandra (Moon god), Sati recited this mantra to dwindle the effect of the curse, which eventually demoralized Daksha. Shiva pleased by Sati took Chandra and placed it upon His divine head.
Om Tatpurushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat॥
“OM! Let me meditate on the great Purusha, Oh, greatest God, give me higher intellect, and let God Rudra illuminate my mind.”
Gayatri is the divine goddess and mother of the Vedas worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh (Shiva). Gayatri symbolizes the virtues of purity, truth and knowledge. By chanting Rudra Gayatri Mantra, our Shiva Tattvas in our soul are super charged by the blessings of Goddess Gayatri who is the divine union of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. This mantra is usually recited for the blessings of Lord Shiva Who alone can burn our ego, selfishness and ignorance. It is best if you chant this mantra on Mondays, Maha Shivratri and Amavasya Tithi.
Maha Shivratri Puja Vidhi in Hindi
जानिए महाशिवरात्रि के शुभ अवसर पर क्या करना चाहिए, कौनसी पूजा विधि करें। वेदों खासतौर पर शिवपुराण में अनेक प्रकार की पूजा विधि का वर्णन किया गया है।
शिवजी को परमकृपालु कहा जाता है। उनके कई सारे दिव्य नाम है। उन्हें आशुतोष कहा जाता है जिनका अर्थ है इच्छा पूर्ण करने वाला। भक्त शिवरात्रि पूजा के लिए रात भर जागते हैं।अनुष्ठान की पूजा के दौरान, शिव को फल सब्जियों और नारियल के फल से बने विशेष भोजन दिए जाते हैं।
शिव पुराण के अनुसार, इस रात शिवलिंग को हर तीन घंटे के अंतराल में नहलाया जाता है।
लिंग को गाय से पांच पवित्र प्रसादों से स्नान कराया जाता है - 'पंचगव्य' में दूध, दही, गोमूत्र, घी और गाय के गोबर शामिल होते हैं।
सुगन्धित पदार्थ जैसे चंदन, गुलाब जल और शहद चढ़ाया जाता है।
इस पूरे समारोह के दौरान शिव मंत्र "ओम नामः शिवाए" का नाम जपा जाता है।
इसके बाद, दूध, मक्खन, दही, शहद और चीनी (अमरता के 5 खाद्य पदार्थ) को शिवलिंग पर चढ़ाया जाता है।
फिर चंदन के पेस्ट को लिंग पर लगाया जाता है।
बिल्वा पत्ते को शिवलिंग के शीर्ष पर चढ़ाया जाता है। बेर या बेर फल और सुपारी के पत्ते को चढ़ाया जाता है।
धतूरा का फल और फूल शिवजी को अर्पण किया जाता है। शिवलिंग को फूल और मालाओं से सजाया जाता है।
महाशिवरात्रि को महिलाओं के लिए एक बहुत शुभ अवसर माना जाता है। इस रात विवाहित महिलाएं अपने पति और पुत्रों की लंबी जिंदगी और भलाई के लिए प्रार्थना करती हैं। अविवाहित महिलाएं आदर्श पति के लिए प्रार्थना करती हैं, जैसे शिव, काली, पार्वती और दुर्गा का पति। ऐसा माना जाता है कि जो कोई ईमानदारी से शिव का नाम लेता है या शिवरात्रि के दौरान शिव मंत्र जाप करता है तो मोक्ष प्राप्त होता है।
How Mahashivratri is Celebrated in all 12 Jyotirlinga?
The 12 Jyotirlingas are the most unique and divine representations of Lord Shiva (luminous presences of the Lord) existing on Earth. These twelve temples, which are the most holy sites of worship in Hinduism, are the most divine and holiest sanctuaries where Lord Shiva is worshiped and are well worth a visit during Maha Shivratri. Devotees who perform darshan of the 12 Jyotirlingas are liberated from their karmic debts and the cycle of birth and rebirth.
Somnath Jyotirlinga temple in Veraval, Saurashtra, Gujarat. The temple, which is considered the holiest of all Jyotirlinga temples in India, is visited by thousands of worshippers every year, remarkably on the festival of Maha Shivratri.
This is the most revered pilgrimage place in India and is considered to be the first of Lord Shiva's twelve jyotirlinga temples from where the pilgrimage starts. The temple, which has been demolished and rebuilt sixteen times, is highly revered all across India and is steeped in folklore, tradition, and history.
Somnath is revered by devotees as the pinnacle of spiritual enlightenment. The temple complex's architecture is largely Chalukya-inspired, with a fairly beautiful altar to Lord Shiva. According to legend, Lord Shiva also visited this sanctuary. It does have a fascinating quality since there are numerous mysteries and secret tales associated with this Lord Shiva temple.
Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga temple in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh. In the name of Mallikarjuna (Shiva) and Bhramaramba (Parvati), the temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It hosts an exuberant Maha Shivratri festival.
Here, Adi Shankara wrote his Shivananda Lahari. This is the only Shiva temple where visitors are allowed to touch the idols, which is not permitted in any other Shiva temple in the world. This ancient Mallikarjuna temple (1234 AD) still stands proudly, captivating the hearts of devotees with its divine spirit and stunning Dravidian style of architecture. The temple is located on the crest of the Shri Saila Mountain. The River Krishna can be seen from the temple, which has beautiful architecture and sculptures. Andhra Pradesh's jyotirlinga is also recognized as one of Sati's 52 shakti peeths. This is one of the most splendid places of worship consecrated to Lord Shiva.
Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. This famous Hindu temple is the primary destination of devotion for Lord Shiva worshipers. Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga is the most heartfelt Hindu temple dedicated to Mahadev and is also regarded to be Lord Shiva's most sacred dwelling.
The Mahakal Lingam is said to be Swayambhu, the only one of the 12 Jyotirlingans to be so. It is also the only temple facing south and the only one with a Shree Rudra Yantra hanging upside down on the Garbhagriha's ceiling (where the Shiv Lingam sits). The main highlight of this temple is its 'Bhasm-Aarti,' which is the first ceremony done in the morning wherein the Shivling is washed with the ashes of a new cremation pyre. This temple attracts thousands of people from all over the globe, notably during Maha Shivratri, Sawan Mass, and Nag Panchami.
Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh. Omkareshwar, located on the Narmada River, is a renowned jyotirlinga that translates to "Lord of the Om Sound." The temple is well-known for its legendary importance. It is said that there was a fight between the Devas and the Danavas. As the Devas appealed to Lord Shiva, the Lord chose their side and came as Omkareshwar to aid them in their victory against the evils.
On the day of Maha Shivratri, thousands of devotees go here to see Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga. The peacefulness of the temple is enhanced by the breathtaking views of the holy Narmada River. The island's shape represents the mighty Hindu "ॐ" (pronounced "Om") symbol, and so the temple is known as Omkareshwar.
Kedarnath Jyotirlinga temple in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. Kedarnath temple is considered the northernmost and nearest Jyotirlinga to Lord Shiva's everlasting abode, Mount Kailash. Kedarnath, tucked away in the snow-capped Himalayas, is an ancient temple steeped in folklore and tradition. It is only open for six months every year. It is also mentioned in Thevaaram as one of the Paadal Petra Sthalam of Vada Naadu.
Lord Shiva took the shape of a wild boar and descended into the soil at Kedarnath to emerge in Doleshwor in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. Because the boar was hurt, pure ghee is put to the Kedarnath lingam. It is the most important Hindu temple devoted to Lord Shiva and is often known as Kedarnath Mandir.
This magnificent Shiva temple is not immediately accessible by road; instead, it requires a 22-kilometer uphill climb from Gaurikund. Pony and manchan services are offered to assist you in reaching the shrine. The temple is closed during the winter months due to the intense cold weather on the hills, and the idol of Lord Shiva is moved down to 'Ukhimath,' where the Supreme Lord is worshipped. Kedarnath is regarded as a unique homogeneous manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga temple in Khed taluka, Pune, Maharashtra. The Bhimashankar Temple is a marvel to see. The temple is surrounded by lush foliage on all sides and is on the banks of the River Bhima. During Maha Shivratri, the site transforms into a fairground refuge for devotees from all around the state.
According to Hindu Puranas, Lord Shiva donned a Rudra form to defeat Tripurasura, a malevolent demon who was bent on destroying the three loks: Heaven, Hell, and the Nether World (Patal). After slaying the demon, then the Lord sat down to rest on the Sahyadri Mountains. It was then that the perspiration from his body began to pour and became the Bhima River. Lord Shiva dwelt on these mountains in the shape of Jyotirlinga at the request of the Devas. During the Maha Shivratri celebration, thousands of devotees flock here.
Vishwanath Jyotirlinga temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. The temple is located in Kashi, the holiest city for Hindus, where every Hindu is supposed to conduct a pilgrimage at least once in his life and, if possible, to dump the bones of deceased relatives into the Ganges. This temple is located on the western bank of the holy river Ganges and has Shakti peeta and Jyotirlingam. It’s the most sacred of all Shiva temples. The major god is known as Vishwanath or Vishweshwara, which means "ruler of the cosmos." Kashi is another name for the temple town, which is deemed the oldest living city on the planet, with 3500 years of recorded history.
Lord Shiva is worshiped here as Vishwanatha, which means Lord of the Universe. This is the most historically significant location, with a large number of visitors coming here every day. Even after being burned several times and attempting to be rebuilt as a mosque by a Mughul ruler. The temple ages back to the 11th century and has been looted several times by Afghan and Arab conquerors.
In 1780, Rani Ahilya Bai Holkar restored the current temple. The temple's towers are gold-plated, with a golden chhatri atop. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners from all around the globe gather here on the ocassion of Maha Shivratri.More than a million Hindus from all across India come to this temple in Varanasi (India's spiritual capital) on Maha Shivratri for the celebrations and rituals, during which a wedding procession of Shiva is carried out around the temple.
Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Trimbak, Nashik, Maharashtra. This temple boasts beautiful architecture, and the natural environs of the Sahyadri mountain range calm the mind and spirit. In India, it is a well-known Lord Shiva temple. The three-faced Shiva Linga, which represents Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Brahma, is the most interesting sight. The Lingam is adorned with several valuable stones such as diamonds and emeralds, among others.
The picturesque landscapes of Brahmagiri and Kalagiri hills contribute to the temple's holy brightness. The temple is constructed of black stone in the Nagara style, and the inner shrine holds the Trimbakeshwar Shivling. Anyone who sees this Jyotirlinga has all of their wishes fulfilled.
In the temple buildings, there is a pond called Kushavarta, which is claimed to be the source of the Godavari River. Aside from the main shrine, the temple has also Lord Krishna, Gangadevi, Lord Jaleswara, Lakshmi Narayan, Lord Rama, Lord Parsurama, Lord Gautameshwar, and other deities are featured too. This is one of the most thronged temples in India during Maha Shivratri celebrations.
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Dwarka, Gujarat. Maha Shivratri is commemorated gloriously here. It is one of the most well-known Lord Shiva temples in India to visit during Maha Shivratri. The temple of Nagnath, which is flanked by Gomai Dwarka and Bait Dwarka on each side, attracts a large quantity of pilgrims and tourists who are drawn in by the intriguing attraction of the temple construction and setting. The temple is a symbol of protection against all forms of venom and poison and hence, is deemed to be a powerful jyotirligan.
According to the Shiv Purana, Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva's wife, blessed a demon called Daruka. Daruka tyrannized the locals and imprisoned a Shiva devotee called Supriya, along with others, by abusing her blessings. To defend themselves from Daruka, everyone began reciting the Shiv Mantra on the suggestion of Supriya. Daruka became enraged and went to murder Supriya when Lord Shiva arrived in the shape of Jyotirlinga to protect her and the other devotees. Since then, the Jyotirlinga has been worshiped at Nageshwar Temple.
Vaidyanatha Jyotirlinga temple in Deoghar, Jharkhand. This temple complex is situated in the Santhal Parganas division and is surrounded by 21 other temples. The holy Shivalinga that exists here is embellished with exquisite stones. It is not only one among the 12 Jyotirlingas, but also a significant Shakti peeth, where Goddess Shakti's bodily parts fell.
According to one popular version, this is the location where Ravana sacrificed his 10 heads in order to obtain the favor of Lord Shiva. The heads were subsequently rejoined by Lord Shiva, who worked as a Vaidya (Doctor), and the location was called Baidynath Dham. There is a prevalent notion that praying at this temple grants devotees a healthy and successful life. During Mughal reign, Raja Man Singh, the king of Amber, is supposed to have erected the Mansarovar pond here. The pyramidal tower of the temple is 72 feet tall. The eight-petaled lotus, known as Chandrakanta Mani, is a sight to see.
Ramanathaswamy Jyotirlinga temple in Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu. It is a world-renowned Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva that can be located on Rameswaram island in Tamil Nadu. Lord Shiva is called as Ramanathasway in this region. Among all the important Hindu temples in India, Rameshwaram Temple has the longest corridor. The temple is a magnificent piece of exquisite architecture. Majestic towers, carved pillars, and opulent passageways will take your breath away.
The current Vishwalingam is said to have been carried by Lord Hanuman on the orders of Lord Rama, and it is being revered today. Other sagas about the temple's history may be heard. The Ramanathaswamy Temple stands as a testament to Lord Rama's unwavering devotion in Lord Shiva. The name Ramanathaswamy itself means "Master of Rama," and attests of this. Lord Rama is claimed to have sanctified Rameshwaram by worshiping Lord Shiva after returning from Lanka, where he defeated the demon Ravana for kidnapping his wife Goddess Sita. He wanted to compensate for his misdeeds by praying to Lord Shiva in the shape of Shivling. As a result, he sent Lord Hanuman to get the largest lingam from the Himalayas. Because Lord Hanuman took so long to retrieve the Shivling, Goddess Sita fashioned a Shivalinga out of sand.
The Rameshwaram Jyotirlinga, often known as the Varanasi of the South, is also one of the most visited sacred locations in the country. Before entering the inner sanctuary, which houses the Shivling, all worshippers must bathe in one of the temple complex's 22 'theerthams,' or holy water tanks.
Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga temple in Ellora, Maharashtra. This beautiful temple of Lord Shiva is located in Ellora, approximately a kilometer away from the world-famous Ellora Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Delhi Sultanate demolished this majestic temple edifice in the 13th century. The temple survived multiple cycles of reconstruction followed by re-destruction as a result of the Mughal-Maratha conflict. After the downfall of the by then Mughal Empire, it was reconstructed in its present shape in the 18th century.
The Grishneshwar Temple, built in Shikhara architecture with gods and goddesses engraved on the walls, is also mentioned in the Shiva Purana. The jyotirlinga is said to have been erected by Ahilyabai Holkar and is located near the Ajanta and Ellora caves. The temple complex is highly spectacular, with wonderful carvings, sculptures, and other stunning building architecture that will captivates you during Maha Shivratri and during all the year.
The 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, Panch Kedar, Sabha temples, Pancharama temples, and five prominent and renowned Lord Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu are important and popular Lord Shiva temples in India. Lord Shiva temples may be found all across India and other parts of the world. Make certain you experience the bliss by going to see one of them on Maha Shivratri.
Maha Shivratri Celebrations Across India
The holy festival of Maha Shivratri is observed with dedication and religious zeal across India and beyond. Though fasting and worship of Shiva Lingam with a ceremonial bath are basic features of Mahashivratri celebrations everywhere, small changes owing to regional differences may be seen in various regions.
Andhra Pradesh - In the state of Andhra Pradesh, Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with fervor. Devotees go to the state's famous Shiva temples, particularly the Sri Kalahasteshwara Temple in Kalahasti and the Bharamarambha Malikarjunaswamy Temple in Srisailam. To celebrate the auspicious event, devotees fast and sing mantras in honor of Lord Shiva during all day and night.
Assam - The Umananda Temple on Peacock Island in the midst of the Brahamaputra river in Guwahati, Assam's capital, is the epicenter of all the Maha Shivratri festivities in the North-Eastern state of Assam. On Maha Shivratri, thousands of Lord Shiva devotees from all across the nation attend the temple. Sibsagar, the former capital of the Ahom monarchs, is the other main Maha Shivratri festival site in Assam.
Himachal Pradesh - The Temple of Bhutnath in Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, is believed to hold the country's largest Maha Shivratri Puja. Every year during Maha Shivratri festival, the Governor of the state conducts a Shobha Yatra, which is opened by the Chief Minister. The practice began over 500 years ago with the royal dynasty of Mandi. An eight-day expo is also being held, with artists from India and even farther afield taking part.
Jammu and Kashmir - Kashmiri Hindus celebrate Maha Shivratri with enthusiasm and dedication. Maha Shivratri is celebrated for three weeks, or 21 days, commencing on the first day of Phalguna's dark fortnight (locally known as hur ukdoh) and ending on the eighth day of Phalguna's light half. On the Thirteen day of the dark half of Phalgun Krishna Paksha, Kashmiri Brahmins hold Maha Shivratri puja to commemorate Lord Shiva′s marriage to Uma, the lovely daughter of the Himalayas. In line with their welcoming character, Kashimiri Brahmins provide non-vegetarian food in puja to entertain Bhairavas, who are thought to make up the majority of Shiva′s baaraat.
Maha Shivratri puja is celebrated in a unique fashion in Jammu and Kashmir. Two kalash (water-soaked walnut) jars portraying Shiva and Parvati are loaded with walnuts. These walnuts are only removed on the third day, which is generally a no moon day or amavasya. On the third day, this moist walnut is handed as prasad to all friends and neighbors. The actual feasting begins on Chaturdashi (the 14th day following the full moon), when families invite one other to meals.In Kashmir, Maha Shivratri is also known as Hayrath, which is a changed version of 'hairat,' a Persian term that means 'complete surprise.' During the Pathan occupation of the valley, the word was formed. Furthermore, Maha Shivratri puja is also called as Vatuk Puja in Kashimir, where Vatuk signifies a collection or an assemblage of various artifacts. The term was chosen since the primary pooja on Maha Shivratri day entails gathering a huge number of objects. The name might otherwise be derived from the phrase Vatuk Dev, which refers to Lord Shiva′s celibate form.
In Kashmir, they also worship Vatuk Bhairav, who is supposed to be Shiva′s most faithful dwarpal (gatekeeper). This is done in order to gain his favor for a meeting with the Lord. On Maha Shivratri, children are given money as a present known as "herat kharch." Surprisingly, not only children get presents; men often give gifts to their wives, and the older brother gives to the younger brother. The next day, it is also customary to play the game of "harr," which is played using sea shells.
Karnataka - In the southern state of Karnataka, the Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with pomp and zeal. To commemorate the auspicious occasion, a large Sri Shidlingappa′s fair is held. The deity is carried to the river in a palanquin, escorted by drummers (Dollu and Majalu) from various adjacent communities, and then worshiped. On Maha Shivratri, Linagayats, followers of Shiva, worship the Lingam. Married ladies follow a custom of wearing a lingam made of silver or gold on their bodies. Children in southern Karnataka pretend to be kings and order punishment to all and everybody. This practice is based on the legendary mythology associated with Maha Shivratri, which tells the account of Shiva punishing Brahma for cheating about the length of Lingam.
Madhya Pradesh - In the state of Madhya Pradesh, Maha Shivratri is celebrated with religious fervor. People in Madhya Pradesh have a practice of taking a holy plunge in Khajuraho's Sagar pond. The location is home to a stunning Shiva temple. The largest Maha Shivratri festivities in the state are held in the Bundelkhand Region, which has a predominance of Shaivites. Throughout the night, a significant number of Lord Shiva devotees gather to the Matangeshwar Temple to pray. The 10-day-long fair, which attracts vendors, peddlers, and gypsies from all over the state, is the highlight of Maha Shivratri festivities at the Matangeshwar Temple. Aside from the rural circus act, there is also a display of traditional cuisine and a range of handicrafts, as well as magic shows, folk theater, and merry-go-rounds to add to the excitement.
Orissa - In the state of Orissa, the Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with devotion and enthusiasm. Lingaraj Temple and Hakateswar Temple Atri are major Maha Shivratri festival sites in this state. Lord Shiva temples at Mahendragiri, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Bhubaneswar, and Khiching also attract a huge number of pilgrims from all across the state.
The Maha Shivratri event at Lokanath Temple in Puri is also well-known. Puri was formerly a hub of Shiva devotion, according to a traditional Orissa mythology. According to legend, Lord Ramachandra personally erected the Lingam at Lokanath Temple. This lingam is maintained immersed in water in a vat. It is only seen on Pankodhar Ekadasi, the day before Maha Shivratri, when the water is emptied from the vat. Thousands of devotees gather for darshan on that day.
West Bengal - The Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with tremendous dedication and excitement in the state of West Bengal. On Maha Shivratri, devotees in West Bengal fast all day. They also build four Shivlings out of clay from the holy river Ganga, as is customary. These Shivlings are subsequently presented in puja during four "prahars" (three-hour periods) of the night. One
of the Shivlings is washed in milk in the first prahar. It is washed with curd in the second prahar, ghee in the third, and honey in the fourth. Devotees must also remain up during Maha Shivratri night. They worship, listen to religious teachings, feed the Brahmins, give them dakshina (alms), and eventually break their fast with prasad the next morning.
Maha Shivratri festivities are exclusive to Shiva temples in certain parts of West Bengal. Women bring a copper jug with milk and water to the sanctuary. They also have woodapple tree leaves, a wood apple, fruits and flowers, and a light with them. Devotees wash Shiva Lingam with water mixed with milk, as is a shared practice in many parts of the world. Puja is conducted, and fruits and flowers are given as offerings. They come home after Puja to break their fast with fruits.
As a symbol of devotion, barefooted visitors bring containers filled with pure Ganga water to pour over the stone picture of the Lord and adorn the granite Lingam with garlands and flowers at Tarakeshwar temple, 57 kilometers from Kolkata.
Maha Shivratri Celebrations Around the World
For spiritual seekers, Maha Shivratri marks the beginning of the new year, and it is therefore a worldwide observance and celebration. Not only in Lord Shiva temples, but also in countless spiritual retreats, yoga centers, satsangs, and everywhere spiritual sadhanas take place, including family home shrines, the festival is an important observance nowadays and it keeps spreading over every year. Mahadev's devotees witness every year how millions of people from all walks of life, regardless of culture or religion, flock to the celebrations.
Unlike some other popular Hindu festivals which have been “exported” to western countries and lost their meaning in the process; as Holi as instance, which is celebrated as an electronic music festival in Europe, but it has mostly lost its significance in the west as a result of being reduced to nothing more than a musical party involving mostly sex and drugs only. However, this is not the case with Maha Shivratri due to the very nature of the observance, which is centered on introspective immersion. Also, unlike most other Hindu festivals, which take place before the Full Moon (Pournima), Maha Shivratri takes place before the New Moon (Ayanamsa), making it less social-oriented and more soul-searching. Thus, even if millions flock every year into Maha Shivratri festivals and celebrations all around the world, its original importance and significance will hardly go away.
Maha Shivratri celebrations are now streamed from every corner of the globe, as awareness about Lord Shiva is rapidly growing in nowadays times and the popularity of spiritual practices associated with the nature of the festival spreads, particularly in the case of yoga (Lord Shiva is considered to be the first yogi ever, also known as Adi-yogi) and the first spiritual guru ever (Adi-guru), and His depictions and the stories connected to Him are magnetically appealing for many thousands of western youngsters of the new generations. As a result, even if only considered as a National Holiday in the Indian subcontinent, it is actually celebrated from Canada, USA to Europe and Russia, and South Africa to Australia.
In the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, Maha Shivratri is a much-anticipated event. Thousands of pilgrims and saints from all across Southeast Asia flock to Nepal weeks before the festival to pray at Kathmandu's Pashupatinath Temple. This Lord Shiva’s temple has been declared UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is a complex consisting of 108 temples together with the main Lord Shiva’s shrine at the center of the complex. Devotees fast throughout the day to commemorate the Maha Shivratri festival. On the morning, they also take a holy bath or a plunge in the river before going to the temple to pray. Immense crowded electronic music celebrations follow all-night-long in the grounds of the temple complex.
Over three days, Maha Shivratri is celebrated in a spectacular fashion in Mauritius. During this time, the majority of devotees will begin their trek to the holy volcanic lake of Ganga Talao in Grand-Bassin. Devotees gather from all over the island and will hike for kilometers to participate on Maha Shivratri. Mauritian Hindus prepare for Maha Shivratri by fasting for 10 days before to the feast. During these 10 days, they pray every day and refrain from eating meat, drinking alcohol, or indulging in other earthly pleasures. The Shivalingam is poured with milk, holy water brought back from the Ganga Talao, honey, and sugar during this ceremony.
Maha Shivratri Celebration at Rudra Centre
Every year Rudra Centre organizes a grand celebration for Maha Shivratri Maha puja where the devotees participate in Rudra Abhishek of the 4 prahars with Namak Chamak (Rudri) Path (Maha Shivaratri 4 kala pooja times). The celebration includes Bhajans, Rudram Chanting, Satsang with Sakhashree Neeta and spiritual dances are all part of this and devotees experience divine Shiva energy in the perfect ambience of Chakra Yog. Each Yajmans individual Sankalpa is read out and the rituals and entertainment programs organized are live streamed.
The main Shiva Puja spans over four prahars (units of time) meaning in each Prahar, rituals include holy bath of Shivalinga with Panchamrit, offering of sacred items, Shiva Abhishek, Shringar (applying sacred powders), applying Bhasma, and offering vastra (clothes).
Maha Shivratri at Rudra Centre hosts different spiritual activities with Maha Shivratri Puja as the central part of the night performed by 11 qualified priests.
The event includes the following activities:
Kalash Sthapana: Kalash is the most essential part of the Vedic Rituals. Installed at the altar before the start of a Vedic ritual, it represents the source of life abundance, wisdom, and immortality. Panchang Sthapana: Panchang is a table featuring the most auspicious time for an activity. 64 yogini Pujan: It includes the worship of Sixty-Four yoginis, the female practitioner of spirituality and yoga. These 64 goddesses are the divine aspect of Bhavani or Parvati. Shetrapal Pujan: It includes prayers and worship of Shetrapal Pujam wherein the attendants of Lord Shiva. Swasti Vachan: It is a mantra that purifies the mind, the body, the heart, the senses and the soul. Ganesh Pujan and Abhishek: It includes the worship and Abhishek of Lord Ganesha.Navgraha Pujan: It includes the worship of nine planets. 108 chants of each planetary mantra: It includes the chanting of each planetary manta meant to invoke their energy. Invocation of major Gods and Goddesses in Kalash: It is highly discourteous not to invite other gods and goddess to a Yagya or an Abhishek. By taking part of such auspicious ceremony, the gods are pleased and shower their blessings. Rudra Kalash Pujan: It includes the worship of Rudra, a fierce manifestation of Shiva. Sankalpa: It includes the recital of Purpose or Intention behind offering prayers to Shiva. One may ask for wish fulfillment from Shiva. Each Yajman’s Sankalpa is recited individually and video recordings are sent to each of the participants. Shiva Invocation Mantra: Powerful Shiva mantras are chanted to invoke the grace of Lord Shiva. Rudra Pujan: It includes the worship of Lord Rudra. Complete Rudra Abhishekam: It includes the sacred bath of Lord Rudra during the four Prahars during all the night.
Milk, Ganga Jal
Fruit Juices such as Sugarcane
Honey or Sugar
Shiva Mantra Japa: It includes the chanting (japa) of Shiva mantras. Sadyojata, Vaamadeva Aghora & Tatpurash: These are the different personality aspects of Lord Shiva worshipped during the puja. Eeshana Mantra: It includes the mantra chanting dedicated to Lord Ishana (Eeshana), the Guardian of northeast direction. North and East are the residences of divine energy whose deity-in-charge is Lord Ishana. Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra Japa: It is the most powerful mantra dedicated to Lord Mrityunjaya, the fiercest protective form of Lord Shiva as per Markandeya Purana, whose worship helps one conquer the most dreaded fear in the world. Shri Rudram Chamakam recitation: It is a powerful Vedic mantra dedicated to Lord Rudra mentioned in the Fifth and the Seventh in Taittiriya Samhita of the Krishna Yajurveda. It is chanted for invoking a benevolent feature of Shiva for wish fulfillment.
Aarti: It includes songs sung in praise of Lord Shiva.
Along with those activities, we have narrations of Shiva stories, bhajans and aartis conducted and dances performed to glorify Lord Shiva and celebrate the joyous union of Shiva and Parvati. Worship of Lord Shiva on this day is multifold more beneficial than worshipping Him on any other day of the year.
For more information on Mahashivratri in 2023 at Rudra Centre and 2023 Mahashivratri Maha Puja and rituals, please kindly contact us.
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Dear Mayank, Thank you so much for such beautiful, wonderful spiritual items arriving so quickly! I am so pleased to be able to wear my Sarva Siddha Combination for the first time on Akshay Tritiya. I feel so utterly blessed to have the support and benefit of this Rudraksha combination. I am so grateful for Neetaji, you, and your coworkers for making this possible! Om Namah Shivaya, Adam