Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival observed as the “night of Shiva” every year on the night before the day of the new moon in the month of Maagha of the Hindu calendar. This day not for celebration but to worship God Shiva with a day of fasting and a night of vigil.
The people observe this day with some perceptions like visiting Shiva temple early in the morning offering pujas to Shivalinga. Some others celebrate chanting Shiva mantras “Om Namah Shivaya.” Devotees do not eat throughout the day and only break the fast the next morning after the all-night ceremonies.
This day is deemed especially auspicious for women. Those who are married pray for the welfare of their husbands and children, while single women pray for a man like Shiva, who is regarded as an ideal husband because he has all the qualities a woman could desire in her future husband. It is also a time to liberate from sins, through different rituals.
There are many stories associated with the occasion of Shivaratri, and we will tell some of them:
During the Samudra Manthan produced by the gods and demons, a poison called haalaa-hala came from the ocean. That poison was very toxic; it could have eliminated the whole creation. At this time, and on the advice of Vishnu, the gods came to Shiva and begged him to protect the lives.
Without having compassion for his life, the god Shiva drank the poison and kept it in his throat. The throat turned blue due to the poison, and he was unhurt. This incident shows us that Shiva, known as the divine destroyer, is also the protector.
Pralaya (The Flood)
In a different version, it is believed that the entire world was about to be destroyed and the goddess Parvati prayed to her husband Shiva to save them. Her prayers were heard, and Parvati called that night the great night of Shiva.
Shiva’s favorite day
After the creation was finished, Parvati asked Shiva which ritual he liked the most. The god replied that it was night 14 of the new moon during the month of Maagha. Parvati transmitted these words to his friends, and later those words would go through all the places of creation.
Why is this day considered sacred?
The moon governs many of the activities of nature, so Hindus believe that the moon is the deity that rules the human mind. Once a month there is a night in which the absence of the moon, makes that night a very auspicious night, in which with a special effort can conquer and transform the mind. While Shivratri comes once every month, Maha Shivratri or the “great night of Shiva” happens once in a year.