Worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri

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Worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri

Worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri

Worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivaratri

 Introduction
Lord Shiva is a highly revered Hindu deity, who is the part of the great holy Trinity (Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh/Shiva – the Creator, the Preserver and the Destroyer). ‘Shiv’ means welfare. Shiva is not only a Lord but is also considered as the prime God in the Panchdev Pujan. In the Shiv Mahimna strot, Pushpadant has described him in a wonderful manner by mentioning him as unborn, the reason for the everyone’s existence, creator, nurturer and destroyer.

The hermetic God, with his abode in Mount Kailash in the Himalayas, is believed to be formless, shapeless and timeless. The ‘Linga’ is the symbol of Lord Shiva’s formless nature. The Shiva Lingam is a mystic symbol of Lord Shiva. People pray both to his idol and to the Lingam that represents him. Lord Shiva, the Destroyer, is worshipped widely by devotees with great respect and devotion. Shiva is considered the easiest of the Gods to please and his blessings are said to possess immense power. One is believed to achieve salvation by worshipping Lord Shiva. From the root of Lord Shiva originated ‘Om’. Hence when one chants ‘Om’, one indirectly worships Lord Shiva.

Mahashivaratri, one of the most revered Indian festivals, is celebrated with great devotion and religious fervour by Hindus in the honour of Lord Shiva. Literally meaning, the Night of Shiva, the festival is celebrated to mark the day on which Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. It falls on the 13th night of the dark half of the Hindu month of Phalgun (it comes in the month of February or March according to the English calendar). On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, devotees observe a day long fast and worship Lord Shiva with great ardour at temples and their homes. It is also believed that whoever worships Lord Shiva on this day attains salvation, and that by fasting on this one day, one can reap the benefits of a whole year’s rigorous prayer.

Here, Ganesha, Lord Shiva’s son, expounds on his father’s mahima (greatness) and the significance of worshipping him on Mahashivaratri.

Legend
Many interesting legends have been recorded in the ancient Hindu texts or scriptures about the festival of Mahashivaratri, explaining the reason behind its celebrations as well as its significance.

According to the Puranas, during the great mythical churning of the ocean – Samudra Manthan (conducted by the devas, the deities/minor gods, and thedaityas, the demons for obtaining nectar to make them immortal), first a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. The devas and the demons were terrified, as it possessed the potency to destroy the entire world. Nobody was ready to touch it, it was so vicious, and they had no clue as to what to do with it. Someone suggested that the only one who could get them out of the predicament was Lord Shiva. So they all ran to him for help, who promptly agreed to consume the poison. However, the poison was so deadly that even if a drop entered Lord Shiva’s stomach (his stomach represents the universe), it would have annihilated the entire world. Legend has it that Lord Shiva took it on himself, and carefully held the poison in his throat that in turn became blue due to the effect of the poison. That is why Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanth. Mahashivaratri is also celebrated as a day of gratitude to Lord Shiva for protecting the world from this deadly poison.

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