Maha Shivaratri is a festival that honors Lord Shiva, it is the Hindu festival that is dedicated to the worship of the great Lord. The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivratri. Among all the twelve Shivratri that occur in a calendar year, the one that occurs in the month of February or March is of the most spiritual significance, hence it is called Maha Shivaratri. Thus, it is believed that worshiping Lord Shiva on this day helps one get rid of all the sins. Also, it popularly believed that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married on this day.
Customs and Traditions
On this day, Shiva Lingam is bathed with milk, water, and honey. The Shiva temples all around the world are decorated with lights and flowers. Devotees also offer fruits, flowers, and bel (wood apple) leaves and visit popular Shiva Temples. They observe fast and can be seen chanting different Mantras of Lord Shiva for his blessings on this day. Moreover, it is a common practice for married as well as unmarried women to keep fast during the day of Maha Shivaratri. This is done to be blessed with marital bliss and have a happy and long married life. Since Lord Shiva is considered as an ideal husband, unmarried girls pray to get married to a man like Lord Shiva.
Moreover, Mahashivratri is very significant for people who are on the spiritual path. Ratri means ‘night’ and also ‘to take refuge.’ Shivratri is the night we take refuge in our spirit i.e., Shiva. Lord Shiva is considered the soul of everything. There is no difference between our soul and Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva symbolizes truth, peace, beauty, and infinity, He represents the essence of our soul as well. It is what we are made of. When we worship Lord Shiva, we recognize these higher qualities within ourselves. Thus, Mahashivratri is the time to celebrate the soul or consciousness within. During Shivratri, we take refuge in the divine consciousness.
Shiva is the very energy on which the entire creation rests. This energy pervades the entire universe and is present within every living being. This energy is called the Shiva Tattva. During Mahashivaratri, Shiva Tattva which is usually 10 inches above the ground comes in contact with the Earth. Shiva Tattva, that is our consciousness or aura descends and touches the material ground. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. As a result, it is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak.
Mahashivratri is the time for our inner consciousness to come alive within our body. A tradition; a certain festival which is staying awake night-long is followed. Basically, keeping awake at night is symbolic of awareness; this night-long tradition is to ensure to allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way upwards and we remain with your spine vertical, staying awake. Being awake the whole night gives up the time to celebrate, meditate and rest in the Shiva Tattva. Spiritual seekers and devotees of Lord Shiva meditate and rejoice in the Shiva energy.
Devotees of Lord Shiva stay awake all night on this auspicious night of Shivratri. They perform poojas, meditate and chant Vedic mantras. These sacred practices bestow a sense of peace and oneness within us and with the world. The best way to celebrate Mahashivarati is to meditate and surrender. Meditation gives access to something beyond the scope of the mind and intellect. This experience takes us to the fourth level of consciousness that is also called Shiva consciousness. Thus, surrender is having the faith that there is a divine power that is taking care of us. Meditation and surrender bring peace and solace to us.
Maha Shivaratri is taking refuge in Shiva or in other words it is about celebrating and understanding Shiva Tattva within oneself.