4 March, 2019
The Hindus believe in the three main gods, namely Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwar also called the Trimurtis. Each one of these represents the three different facets of life, called creation, sustenance or preservation, and destruction. Maheshwar is also fondly called as Mahadev, or Shiva, or even Nataraja, as he is said to be fond of dancing as well. It is incredible that many people, known as Shaivaites follow this lord of destruction, and even otherwise, he is a favorite god to many.
There are temples across the country in this God’s honor, and he is mostly worshipped in the form of a Linga. The most coveted pilgrimage for Shiva happens to be the Amarnath Yatra, where people get to worship the snow-covered Shivalinga and then, of course, there is the Kailash Manasasarovar Yatra, which is none other than the abode of Lord Shiva. Shiva, of course, is highly revered as he is also the father of Ganesha, whom all Hindus propitiate before starting any new venture. More than all this, the love and devotion of Shiva and Parvati as a couple are part of many tales, as to how Shiva meditated to get Parvati back as his wife.
Every Hindu god has a day dedicated to them, and thus we have Ganesh Chaturthi in honor of Ganesha, Janmashtami in honor of Krishna, Vaikuntha Ekadashi for Vishnu, the Navratri for goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati and so on. For Shiva, this day happens to be called as Shivaratri, which is fast approaching this year, on the 4th March 2019, next Monday.
Devotees celebrate this day and night, by worshipping Lord Shiva through observing fast and Jagran (keeping awake). People recite the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” to do penance and obtain the Lord’s blessings. The lord is offered his most coveted offering, which happens to be the Bilva Patra, along with the regular fare of milk, flowers, coconut and so on. Poojas are held a day long and throughout the night in many famous Shiva temples across the country. Few of these are the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Somnath temple in Gujarat, Mahakaleshwar and Omkareshwar temples in MP, Triambakeshwar in Maharashtra, Ramanatheshwar in Rameswaram, Brihadeshwara temple in Thanjavur, Koti Lingeshwara temple in Karnataka, Vadakkunathan temple in Kerala, and so on.
Traditions, Rituals, and Belief
It is believed through this night; the Lord had danced the Tandava, the dance that denotes the primal creation, preservation, and destruction. He did this after drinking the pot of poison that came out while churning the ocean to save the world from destruction. This is why he is also called as the Neelkanth or the one with the blue throat. Another legend states that it was on this night that he took on the form of the Shiva Linga. It is believed that if you strictly observe a fast and pray the lord through this day and night, you will be absolved of all sins. Married women think that this helps the well being of their husbands, while the unmarried believe that it will help them get a husband like Shiva. As we mentioned above, Shiva was a devoted husband to Devi Parvati, and the Goddess had actually overcome obstacles to marry him as per her wish.
Many people also take the holy bath in the Ganga or any other holy river nearby. Then they visit nearby Shiva temples with offerings to propitiate God. The poojas and chanting go on through the day and night, and devotees break their fast only the next day morning.
In recent times, we have had the Adiyogi Shiva statue at the Isha Yoga Centre in Coimbatore, which is said to be the largest bust sculpture in the world. It stands 34.3 meters tall and was designed by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, who founded the Isha Foundation. Adi Yogi also indicates that he is the first one from whom Yoga originated. The MahaShivarathri is celebrated here with great fervor, gaiety, and devotion. There are lots of performances, poojas, and chanting that happens the whole night in full devotion to worship the lord. Usually, a big crowd attends the proceedings, and it is also telecast live on a few channels. If you have not been to this part of India, in Tamil Nadu, you may try to make it to this event and discover the joy of a devotional night.
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