Mahashivratri, One of India's holiest holidays, is also one of its biggest and most important. Shiva, who is revered as the Adi Guru or the First Guru and the source of the Yogic tradition, is honoured throughout the festival for his Grace. Because of the planetary alignments on this nightâ€”which also happens to be the darkest night of the yearâ€”the human body experiences a strong natural increase in energy. Staying awake and attentive in a vertical position throughout the night is extremely good for one's bodily and spiritual welfare.
An annual Hindu event called Maha Shivaratri is dedicated to promoting family unity and fertility. It literally means "The Night of Lord Shiva" and is named after the great Hindu god who creates, safeguards, and alters the cosmos.
The origin of this celebration is described in several myths and traditions found in the Puranas.
According to one, a pot of poison came out of the sea at the Samudra Manthan. The poison's potential to wipe out the entire universe alarmed the Gods and devils, who subsequently fled to Shiva for assistance. Shiva drank the deadly poison, but he did not swallow it, but kept it in his throat to save the universe from its wicked repercussions. His neck became blue as a result, and he was given the nickname Neelakantha, which means "the blue-throated one." Shivaratri commemorates the occasion when Shiva rescued the universe.
Another mythology in the Shiva Purana claims that Brahma and Vishnu, the other two members of the triad of Hindu gods, once engaged in conflict about who was the superior of the two. The other gods begged Shiva to step in because they were horrified by how intense the conflict was. Shiva took on the appearance of a massive column of fire and stood between Brahma and Vishnu in order to make them realise the pointlessness of their battle. They made the decision to each locate an end to claim dominance over the other after being struck by its size. While Vishnu, as Varaha, descended into the ground, Brahma took on the shape of a swan and flew aloft.
However, light has no bounds, thus despite travelling hundreds of kilometres in quest of the end, neither could. Brahma encountered a Ketaki flower floating down gently while ascending. The Ketaki said that she had been placed at the top of the flaming column as an offering when asked where she had come from. Brahma gave up trying to identify the highest limit and opted to accept the flower as a witness instead.
The enraged Shiva then showed his actual self. He condemned Brahma and punished him for lying by forbidding anybody from ever praying to him. She had given false testimony, thus it was prohibited from using the Ketaki flower as a sacrifice for any type of worship. Since Shiva originally appeared as a Linga on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Phalguna, the day is particularly auspicious and is observed as Mahashivaratri. On this day, Shiva is worshipped because it is said to bring pleasure and wealth to the worshipper.
The all-night adoration of Shiva on Shivratri is explained by a mythology. A tribal man from a destitute background previously had a deep devotion to Shiva. He ventured far into the forest one day to get firewood. He got lost, though, and was unable to find his way back before dark. He heard the howls of savage beasts as night fell. He was so terrified that he went up the nearest tree to find cover till dawn. He was worried he might fall from the tree while perched amid the branches. He made the decision to pick one leaf from the tree at a time and drop it while reciting the name of Shiva in order to stay awake.
The tribe member took one leaf off the tree at a time and put it down, which he had not noticed in the dark, until realising that he had dropped a thousand leaves upon a Linga to keep himself awake. Unexpectedly, the tree was a wood apple or bel tree. Shiva was pleased by the tribal group's unintentional all-night devotion, and by his favour they were granted celestial happiness. Additionally, during Mahashivaratri, fasting devotees recount this tale. Devotees consume the Prasad that was presented to Shiva after keeping an all-night fast.
Another explanation for the start of the all-night worship is plausible. Since there was no moon that night, they worshipped Shiva, a god who wears a crescent moon ornament in his hair. This was presumably done to make sure the moon would rise the following night.
The trees are covered in blossoms just after Mahashivaratri, almost as if to proclaim that after winter, the earth's fertility has been restored. And possibly for this reason, the Linga is revered as a fertility symbol across India. In different regions of India, the holidays are different.
Children are free to engage in any kind of mischief in southern Karnataka, for instance, and asking for punishment is the norm there. These practises are likely derived from the legendary episode in which Shiva punished Brahma for lying. The Shivanatha Temple in Varanasi honours Shiva's appearance as the light of unsurpassed wisdom and the Linga (a symbol for a pillar of light).
Mahashivaratri is a celebration of the Hindu world as well as a rite. It dispels ignorance, emits knowledge's light, awakens one to the cosmos, ushers in spring after a chilly, dry winter, and calls for the highest power to take notice of the creatures he created.
Mahashivratri is very significant for individuals looking for spiritual enlightenment. It is crucial for both people with family responsibilities and those who are ambitious in the world. Mahashivratri is observed by families as the anniversary of Shiva and Parvati's wedding. Those with materialistic goals see that day as the day Shiva defeated all of his adversaries.
However, for ascetics, it is regarded as the day he united with Mount Kailash.. He went completely motionless, like a mountain. Shiva is not worshipped as a deity in the yogic tradition; instead, he is regarded as the Adi Guru, the original Guru from whom the yoga science descended. He spent countless ages in meditation until becoming completely motionless one day.
It is Mahashivratri on that day. Ascetics refer to Mahashivratri as the "night of stillness" because all motion in him ceased and he remained completely still.
All of the traditional prayers practised in Indian culture did not focus on self-salvation, self-defense, or improving one's lot in life. Oh Lord, kill me so that I may become like you has been the theme of all previous petitions. As a result, when we refer to Shivratri, the darkest night of the month, we mean that it is a chance for people to let go of their boundaries and to encounter the limitlessness of the source of creation, which is the seed inside each and every one of us.
Despite any legends, this day and night are highly revered in the yogic traditions because of the opportunities they offer a seeker of spirituality. Modern science has gone through many stages and is now trying to convince you that everything you see as life, substance, and existence, as well as the cosmos and galaxies, is actually simply one energy that presents itself in many different ways.
Each and every yogi has firsthand experience with this scientific fact. One who has grasped the concept of the oneness of existence is referred to as a "yogi." I don't want to single out any one specific practise or system when I use the term "yoga." Yoga is the practise of all aspirations to know the limitless and the oneness of life. An individual gets the chance to do this during the night of Mahashivratri.
Mahashivratri is a highly important holiday for everyone, both those who are spiritually inclined and those who have families and jobs. Mahashivratri is revered by those who have families as the anniversary of Shiva's wedding. The aspirational believe it to be the day Shiva vanquished all of his foes. Shiva, however, is not regarded as a deity in the yogic tradition; rather, he is regarded as the Adi Guru, or first guru, who is credited with creating the yoga science. The definition of Shiva is "that which is not." It is possible to develop a fresh perspective on life and see it with complete clarity if you can maintain a condition in which you are not yourself and allow Shiva to be.
Maha Shivratri is directly related to conception and fertility. Married women follow the fast to express gratitude and preserve the peace in their marriages, while single women fast in the hopes of finding a companion during the festival.
The celebration combines a 24-hour vigil with a daylong fast. Devotees rise early and take a ceremonial wash in the morning. After performing these ritual cleansings, they would proceed to the Shiva temple nearby to give offerings of milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar, and water. Om Namah Shivaya, Shiva's sacred mantra, is said in homes and temples all throughout India. During special pujas, streams of pilgrims continue to arrive throughout the day and into the night as incense is burned, lamps are lighted, and other rituals are performed. Devotees observe a serious fast the entire time till the next morning.
Maha Shivaratri is not just a big deal in India; it's also a big deal among Indo-Caribbean cultures, where the night of devotion is solemnly honoured in more than 400 temples and unique concoctions called jhalls (milk and curd, flowers, sugarcane, and sweets) are offered up to Lord Shiva. Hindu pilgrims go from Mauritius for the famous crater-lake known as Ganga Talao; in Nepal, where the festival is a national holiday, devotees swarm sacred locations including the Shiva Shakti Peetham and the Pashupatinath temple. Maha Shivaratri has a variety of significance for various people. The concept of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" is one of the main themes that appeals to believers the most.