Mahashivaratri is not only a ritual but also a cosmic definition of the Hindu universe. It dispels ignorance, emanates the light of knowledge, makes one aware of the universe, ushers in the spring after the cold and dry winter, and invokes the supreme power to take cognizance of the beings that were created by him.
Hindu Mythology is vast and always has a variety of reasons associated with any happening. The very auspicious Maha Shivaratri celebrates the presence of the most powerful God – Lord Shiva. Know the reasons behind this day.
Marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
The representations of power – Lord Shiva and Parvati, tied the knot a day before Amavasya in the month of Phalgun. This day of the union of God Shiva and Parvati is celebrated as Mahashivratri every year.
Shiva married his second consort Shakti after a series of happenings. His first wife Sati sacrificed herself to the sacred fire to save her husband’s respect. This made Lord Shiva go into a phase of deep meditation and detachment from the existence. Meanwhile, Sati reincarnated in the form of Goddess Parvati and fell in love with the great yogi. She practiced severe penance to attain Lord Shiva. After many difficulties, they united together to form the source of all powers in existence.
During Samudra Manthan – the great war between the Devtas and the Asuras to become immortal; along with the Amrit, a pot of poison also emerged. This pot had the capacity to destroy everything in existence. To prevent this tragedy from happening, the Devtas asked Lord Shiva to help protect the universe. He drank the disastrous poison and stored it in his throat. From that moment onwards his throat became blue in color and he came to be known as Neelakantha – the man with blue throat who saved the world.
The origin of Shivalinga
The fight between the two Gods – Brahma and Vishnu for the attainment of superiority lead to the discovery of Shivalinga. Lord Shiva asked both of them to find the aadi (beginning) and antha (end) of the Shivalinga. Both the Gods started their journey but no one was able to find neither the start nor the end of the Shivalinga. Lord Brahma lied and hence got punished by Shiva as well. To know the complete story you can read “HOW DID SHIVALINGA EVOLVE“. This day marks the superiority of Mahadev over all the other Hindu Gods.
The moon on Lord Shiva’s head
You must have observed that Mahashivaratri always comes on a moonless night. This is done to ensure that the moon rose the next night. People worship the Shivalinga and consider it as a sign of fertility. And miraculously the day after the festival the trees are full of flowers as if to announce the start of spring. The earth seems rejuvenated and seems blessed by the fertility God.
Legend of Ganga
The involvement of Ganga is another popular legend which is related to Shivratri. Ganga’s descent from the heavens to the earth has been narrated in the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayana. From this legend comes the ritual of giving a holy bath to the Shiva linga with the sacred water of Ganga.
According to this legend, while Goddess Ganga was descending to the earth from heaven, Lord Shiva held out his thick matted hair to catch the river ganga. This smooth journey of the river to the soil washed away the ashes of the ancestors. The Ganga, thus, became an attribute of Shiva and therefore Shiva is also known as Gangadhara – the beholder of river Ganga. On the basis of this mythological story, people walk all the way down to the powerful Shivalingas with naked feet carrying Gangajal and give him a bath with the holy water.
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