As I close my eyes, I can still recall my last year's Mahashivratri Puja chants of the priest, the sounds of the temple bells, the aroma of Havan kund. I remember amidst all this, my mind and body were struggling to keep away all Covid fear. And eventually, my love and devotion for Shiva helped me to connect with the divine power of Shiva.
The name Shiva always tinkles two parallel images of him in my mind
Power yet Calm
Peace yet fierce
Love yet in Control
Darkness yet Illuminator
And so was his dance form.
Mahashivratri's night denotes the festival of the association of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. According to Hindu folklore, on this day, Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. While Shivratri comes on the Chaturdashi Tithi of Krishna Paksha every month. Mahashivratri is celebrated just once a year on the fourteenth day of Phalguna month. On this day worshipers do Fasting, Rudra Abhishek, and offer Lord Shiva his favourites like Bhang, Bel Patra, Phal, dhatura and milk. This year Mahashivratri is on March 1, 2022, all over India. The celebrations will start at 3:16 am on March 1 and will end at 1:00 am on March 2. It is said that Mahashivratri is the unification of two powers the Shiva and Goddess Shakti. Shiva is known as the God of death or destroyer and Goddess Shakti as a power.
As per Puranas, there are a few Mahashivratri stories and legends you will find worth knowing them.
Samudra Manthan Story
According to one story, during Samudra Manthan, a pot consisting of toxic substances came out of the sea. All the Gods were worried that it will destroy the whole world, at that point, Lord Shiva drank the poisonous toxins of the pot. Lord Shiva held the poison in his throat and did not take it fully inside. And because of this reason, we see blue colour on his throat. Shiva's this sacrifice gave him the name Neelakantha. Based on this legend Mahashivratri Puja started.
One more story cited in the Shiv Purana
Once Brahma and Vishnu were battling among themselves that who is powerful amongst the two. Gods were scared of this futile battle thus they went to Lord Shiva to intervene in the conflict. Shiva appeared where the two were fighting, in the form of a big shining Lingam spread across the universe. Upon seeing Shiva lingam, both the Gods Brahma and Vishnu chose to find the beginning or end of the Lingam. To decide the winning position in their long battle. Brahma became the form of a swan and went upwards while Vishnu took the form of Varaha or Boar and went into the earth. They looked through the peak and depth of the Lingam but couldn't track down the beginning or the end. After this, Shiva came back to his own self and told Brahma and Vishnu he is infinite. Since it was on the fourteenth day of Phalguna month when Shiva showed himself as an infinite Lingam, that day is also commemorated as Mahashivratri. Adoring Shiva on this day blesses with a blissful and flourishing life.
I want to share a beautiful quote describing Shiva
Shiva is not just a name, It is a Sentiment, an emotion. Shiva is all that there is and there is nothing beyond him. Shiva is the physics of this Universe, the sacred void which is endless.
Lord Shiva and Parvati Marriage
The most significant reason for Mahashivratri Puja is Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati's nuptial knot. The Sacred union of the two is celebrated with grandeur. Married Couples perform Rudhrabhishekam with lots of love and devotion to seek Shiva Parvati blessings for a happy married life. Bathe Shiva Lingam with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar, and water while chanting 'Om Namah Shivaya Mantra'. It is believed that unmarried girls observe fast to find a suitable life partner for themself. Amongst all the God he can be easily pleased thats why he is also known as Bholenath. Shiva is known as the destroyer and on the other hand, he is also known as the most kind-hearted. He is Omnipresent, that's why he is related to darkness. As we all know there is more darkness in the Universe. And this darkness is eternal and never-ending so is Shiva's Power and blessings for his devotees. Hence, for those who perform puja on Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva Showers his immense blessings.