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Maha Shivaratri: All you need to know about significance, story and rituals

Maha Shivaratri revered in the name Bhagwan Shiva or Baba Neelkantha, it further marks the re-union of Maa Parvati and Bhagwan Shiva constituting Ardhnareshwara. There is no single reason behind the celebration of one of the biggest Hindu festivals, there are numerous instances attached to this auspicious festival. This festival is famous among Hindu families due to immense reverence in Bhagwan Shiva. 

Procedure involved during Puja:

Shivaratri falls on Chaturdashi Tithi of every month but, Maha Shivratri appears one’s in a year on Chaturdashi Tithi, Krishna Paksha, Falgun month. As the name suggests Maha Shivratri is superior among all Shivratris and had special significance attached. The Nishita Kaal Puja time falls between 12:08 am to 12:58 am on 2nd March 2022

The devotes of Mahakaal may perform their Puja as suitable within these four Prahar’s only that are:-

  • Prahar 1 – 6.21 pm to 9.27 pm (March 1)
  • Prahar 2 – 9.27 pm (March 1) to 12.33 am (March 2)
  • Prahar 3 – 12.33 am to 3.39 am (March 2)
  • Prahar 4 – 3.39 am to 6.45 am (March 2)

Maha Shivaratri Puja is categorized into four Prahar’s and performed one to four times throughout the night. If the devotee performs puja once, it can be done with sandalwood paste, curd, ghee, honey, sugar and rose water. If the devotees perform puja for all the four Prahar’s then, Jal Abhishek should be done in first Prahar. Curd should be used for doing Abhishek in second Prahar, Ghee in Third Prahar and lastly, Honey in the fourth Prahar.

The list of items involved in the Puja of Bhagwan Shiva are at least one lamp, Cotton wicks, Holy bell, Kalash or a copper pot, Thali, white cloth for placing Shiva Linga, matchbox, incense sticks, sandal paste, Ghee, Camphor, Sindoor, Vine leaves (Belpatra), Vibhooti- the holy ash, Arka Flower, Bilwa leaves, Small Katoris, Rosewater, Zaiphal, Gulal, and Bhang.

Important “Mantra Ucharana” on Maha Shivaratri:

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ॥
कर्पूरगौरं करुणावतारं संसारसारं भुजगेन्द्रहारम्।
सदा बसन्तं हृदयारबिन्दे भबं भवानीसहितं नमामि।।

What to eat during Vrata (fast):

  • The devotees can consume seasonal fruits and water to remain hydrated all day such as orange juice, pomegranate and several other
  • The devotes can consume Makhane, Potato and Peanuts to remain charged all the day
  • The devotes might opt for Sabudana Khichdi
  • The devotes might also go for carrot and bottle gourd Kheer

What not to eat during Vrata (fast):

  • The devotees of Bhagwan Shiva must avoid a non-vegetarian diet and Alcohol or any other type of addictive substance
  • The devotes must avoid usage of Onion and Garlic
  • The devotees must avoid the use of regular Salt, but can go for rock salt.

Significance behind Maha Shivaratri:

The Vrata (fasting) in Hindu Dharma depicts purifying the mind and body and helps us to focus on a pious soul of Bhagwan. Upavaasa is divided into two words, Upa means near and Vaasa means to stay. Upavaasa collectively means to stay in close proximity of the almighty. Vrata or Upavaasa has associated several health benefits with this including reducing inflammation, improving blood pressure, controlling cholesterol levels, boosting metabolism and further preventing neurodegenerative disorders.

Performing rituals associated with Maha Shivaratri assumes performing 100 Yagya equal to Maha Shivaratri. The rituals of Maha Shivaratri nourishes the nature and well being of the society, it further eliminates the feeling of wickedness and fills us up towards performing our duty (Dharma).  

Story behind the Maha Shivaratri:

Auspicious Marriage of Maa Parvati and Bhagwan Shiva:

Another most popular epic tale associated with the festival of Maha Shivaratri advocates the belief of marriage between Bhagwan Shiva and Maa Parvati on the same.

After Maa Sati’s death, Shiva opted to live like a hermit and performed severe penance and meditation. Maa Sati took rebirth in the house of Daksha Prajapati as Maa Parvati. In order to win, Mahadev’s heart Maa Parvati performed rigorous penance for years to win Mahadev’s attention. After being impressed by Maa Parvati’s unconditional, immeasurable love Bhagwan Shiva accepted her as his consort.  

Lord Shiva and the Samudra Manthan episode: 

In order to be superior among all, the Devas and Asuras started churning the ocean in the search of divine nectar (Amrita) to gain immortality. Devas and Asuras churned the ocean with the help of Mount Mandara as a rod and Vasuki (king of serpents) as a rope. The churning of the ocean presented Nectar (Amrita) but, along with that a pitcher full of Halahala or Kalakuta poison also appeared.

With the captivating tactics of Bhagwan Vishnu as Mohini, Devas succeeded in obtaining Amrita but, the Halahala was so toxic that it can even ruin the creation of God. Bhagwan Vishnu along with Devas and Asuras reach Bhagwan Shiva to plead the safety of well being of the environment, thus Bhagwan Shiva decided to drink the poison in order to save the Universe.

Bhagwan Shiva consumed the Halahala, fearing it could harm Bhagwan Shiva Maa Parvati pressed his neck to prevent poison from going down in the body. The Devas and other devotees of Bhagwan Shiva praised, performed dance and sang songs so that the poison couldn’t cause any harm to Bhagwan Shiva. Thus, the poison stuck into his throat and turned his neck into Blue coloured, from the same day Bhagwan Shiva was also named Neelakantha.

The story of how the Shiva Linga came into being:

At one point, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma argued over their height. This caused a great deal of frustration for Devaloka and the Devas reached out to Lord Shiva for help. To convince Brahma and Vishnu that supernatural power was at work, Shiva appeared in flaming fire and challenged both of them to keep track of the beginning and the end of the glorious light.

Vishnu turned into a pig and went underground while Brahma took the position of Swazi to fly high. The search was so disturbing that Brahma persuaded Ketaki’s history to play proof of his “success” in tracing the origin of the line and passing the same on to King Vishnu.

It was then that Lord Shiva emerged from his full stature in the song. Realizing that their argument was futile and that their claim to supremacy was meaningless, Brahma and Vishnu bowed to King Shiva and asked forgiveness.

As Shiva is already in the state of Linga on this day, people celebrate his greatness by staying awake and singing harsh words in his honour at Maha Shivaratri.

नागेन्द्रहाराय त्रिलोचनाय
भस्माङ्गरागाय महेश्वराय ।
नित्याय शुद्धाय दिगम्बराय
तस्मै नकाराय नमः शिवाय

मन्दाकिनीसलिलचन्दनचर्चिताय
नन्दीश्वरप्रमथनाथमहेश्वराय ।
मन्दारपुष्पबहुपुष्पसुपूजिताय
तस्मै मकाराय नमः शिवाय

शिवाय गौरीवदनाब्जबृंदा
सूर्याय दक्षाध्वरनाशकाय ।
श्रीनीलकण्ठाय वृषध्वजाय
तस्मै शिकाराय नमः शिवाय

वशिष्ठकुम्भोद्भवगौतमार्यमूनीन्द्र देवार्चिता शेखराय ।
चन्द्रार्कवैश्वानरलोचनाय
तस्मै वकाराय नमः शिवाय

यज्ञस्वरूपाय जटाधराय
पिनाकहस्ताय सनातनाय ।
दिव्याय देवाय दिगम्बराय
तस्मै यकाराय नमः शिवाय

पञ्चाक्षरमिदं पुण्यं यः पठेच्छिवसंनिधौ ।
शिवलोकमावाप्नोति शिवेन सह मोदते

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