Maha Shivaratri is an annual celebration devoted to the Hindu god Shiva and is especially relevant in the Shaivism belief of Hinduism. While most of the Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. Moreover, unlike most Hindu festivals which include representation of cultural celebration, Maha Shivaratri is a religious event celebrated for its thoughtful focus, fasting, a meditation on Shiva, self-study, social peace and an all-night wake at Shiva temples. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated over three or ten days based on the Hindu calendar. The main festival is called Maha Shivaratri celebrate on the new moon day the month of Falgun. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the festival owes its origins to several versions, one of them being a celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage to each other. According to the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in either February or March.
There are many reasons behind the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. Here are some of them:
The Manifestation of Lord Shiva Column (pillar) of fire:-
One day, Brahma and Vishnu were quarreling. Brahma claimed, “I created the world. I must be God”. Vishnu answered if you seek validation, it means you cannot be God. “Then who is God?”, Brahma asked to know. This deception of Brahma angered Lord Shiva and he arrived before them in his visible form. He told them that there is no start and end to this line of fire. Pleased with Vishnu to stick to the truth, he blessed him. And enraged by the trickery of Brahma, Shiva told him that he will never be worshipped by the people. Realizing their mistake of fighting with each other, both Vishnu and Brahma worship Lord Shiva. Pleased by the worship, Lord Shiva declared, from now on, this day will be famous as “Shivaratri”.
When Shiva Drinks Poison:-
One of the beliefs is that this is the day Lord Shiva drinks poison to protect the world. The story goes like this, During the churning of the ocean many things came out as a result of the churning. A kind of deadly poison was one of them which threatened to destroy the world. Lord Shiva drank the poison to protect the world from it.
Celebration of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage:-
According to history, this is the night when Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married. Thus, this day is celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Shiva and Parvati. Also, in Kashmir Shaivism, there is a belief that every Kashmiri girl is Parvati and is wedded to Shiva. Thus, Shivaratri symbolizes their wedding.
Shiva dances Creation, Preservation and Destruction:-
On this day, Lord Shiva performs the heavenly dance of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. By chanting the hymns of Shiva and reading scriptures of Shiva, devotees join this cosmic dance. That’s why Lord Shiva is also worshipped as “Nataraja” the lord of the dance.
When people on Earth worshipped Lord Shiva:-
History says that Devi Parvati pleaded Lord Shiva to preserve the earth and its people from impending destruction. Lord Shiva agreed to this on the condition that he would protect them only when they worship him with complete dedication. From that day, it is celebrated as Mahashivaratri.