Mahashivratri, also known as the “Great Night of Shiva,” is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva, the third god of the Hindu Trinity. The festival falls on the 14th night of the dark half of the lunar month in the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in late February or early March. In 2023, Mahashivratri will be celebrated on Saturday, 18 February, 2023.
Importance of Mahashivratri
Mahashivratri holds great significance in Hindu mythology and is one of the most significant festivals for devotees of Lord Shiva. The day is considered to be the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandav, a cosmic dance that signifies the creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe. The festival is also associated with the legend of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Shakti, the personification of feminine energy, also known as Parvati.
Mahashivratri is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm across India, with devotees offering prayers, fasting, and performing pujas to Lord Shiva. It is believed that observing fasts and performing rituals on this day can bring spiritual advancement, inner peace, and well-being.
What is Mahashivratri and Why it is Celebrated?
Mahashivratri, “The Great Night of Shiva” is the most significant event in India’s spiritual calendar.
The fourteenth day of every lunar month or the day before the new moon is known as Shivratri. Among all the twelve Shivratris that occur in a calendar year, Mahashivratri, the one that occurs in February-March is of the most spiritual significance. On this night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being. This is a day when nature is pushing one towards one’s spiritual peak. It is to make use of this, that in this tradition, we established a certain festival which is nightlong. To allow this natural upsurge of energies to find their way,one of the fundamentals of this nightlong festival is to ensure that you remain awake with your spine vertical throughout the night.
Lord Shiva – The God of Destruction and Regeneration
Lord Shiva is one of the most significant gods in the Hindu pantheon and is known by many names such as Mahadev, Mahesh, and Nataraja. He is often depicted with a third eye on his forehead, a crescent moon on his head, and a snake around his neck. Lord Shiva is considered to be the god of destruction and regeneration and is believed to be the destroyer of evil and the protector of righteousness.
Lord Shiva is also known for his asceticism and renunciation, as he is often depicted meditating in the Himalayas. His worship is particularly popular among ascetics, yogis, and seekers of spiritual knowledge.
Shakti – The Feminine Energy
Shakti, also known as Parvati, is the personification of feminine energy and is worshipped as the consort of Lord Shiva. She is often depicted with Lord Shiva and is believed to embody his creative and nurturing aspects. Shakti is considered to be the mother of the universe and is worshipped as the ultimate source of power and energy.
The marriage of Lord Shiva and Shakti is celebrated on Mahashivratri and is believed to symbolize the union of male and female energies, which are essential for the creation and sustenance of the universe.
Celebrations of Mahashivratri
Mahashivratri is celebrated with great fervor and devotion across India. Devotees fast and perform pujas throughout the day and night, offering prayers and making offerings to Lord Shiva. Many devotees also observe all-night vigils, singing hymns and reciting mantras in honor of Lord Shiva.
In some parts of India, especially in North India, it is customary to take a dip in the holy river Ganga on Mahashivratri. This is believed to cleanse the body and purify the soul.
One of the most significant rituals of Mahashivratri is the Lingam Puja, which is performed in temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Lingam represents Lord Shiva’s creative and regenerative aspects, and devotees offer milk, honey, and other sacred offerings to the Lingam.
Mahashivratri is a festival that celebrates the power of Lord Shiva and Shakti, the embodiment of masculine and feminine energies in the universe. The festival is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm across India, with devotees offering prayers and performing pujas to Lord Shiva, observing fasts, and performing rituals. The day is believed to be auspicious for spiritual advancement, inner peace, and well-being.
Mahashivratri also holds significance beyond the religious context. It is an occasion that celebrates the importance of balance and harmony between the different aspects of life, and the union of male and female energies, which are essential for the creation and sustenance of the universe. It is a reminder of the cyclical nature of life, death, and rebirth, and the need to embrace all aspects of existence to find inner peace and enlightenment.
In conclusion, Mahashivratri is a festival that celebrates the power of Lord Shiva and Shakti and the importance of balance and harmony in the universe. The festival is an occasion for spiritual advancement, inner peace, and well-being, and a reminder of the cyclical nature of life and the need to embrace all aspects of existence to find enlightenment. On this day, let us come together to celebrate the power of Lord Shiva and Shakti and seek their blessings for a life full of peace, prosperity, and harmony.