Mahaa Shivratri 2008 is on March 06, Thursday.
The auspicious festival of MahaShivratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during the Krishna Paksha in the month of Phalgun. This year it is on 6th March.
Difference between Shivratri & Maha Shivratri
Every month there is a shivratri, i.e. every month the 13th night in the Krishna Paksha is a Shivratri but Maha Shivratri comes in the Phalgun Month.
What is Maha Shivratri ?
According to Hindu Vedic System, Shivratri or 'Shiv ji's Great Night' symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many however, believe, Shivratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
Celebration of Mahaa Shivratri ?
Celebrating the festival in a customary manner, devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with the panchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Celebrations of Shivratri Festival mainly take place at night. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng in Shiva temples across the country and spend 'the Night of Lord Shiva" by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord. The festival holds special meaning for the ladies. They pray to Goddess Parvati also called 'Gauri', the giver of 'suhag' for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.
Maha Shivratri and Kaal Sarp Dosh
The day of Maha Shiv Ratri is considered very auspicious for performing the Yajna that negates the effects of Kaal Sarp Dosh.
Significance of Maha Shivratri
There are several stories associated with this special grand night of Lord Shiva:
1. Samudra Manthan Story of Maha Shivratri: During Samudra Manthan (the churning of the celestial ocean) by the gods and demons, a highly toxic poison came out of the ocean. As per the advice of Lord Vishnu, the gods took refuge in Lord Shiva for protection.
Pleased with their prayers, out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank this poison and held it in his throat by binding it with a snake. The throat became blue due to the poison (Thus Lord Shiva is also know as Neelakantha) and Shiva remained unharmed. The wise men advised the gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. To keep him awake, the gods took turn performing various dances and playing music. A vigil was thus kept by the gods in contemplation of Shiva.
As the day broke out, Shiva, pleased with their devotion blessed them all, and also said that whosoever worshipped & contemplated on Him on this day shall be blessed with the fulfillment of his or her wishes. Since then, on this day and night - devotees fast, keep vigil, sing glories of the Lord and meditate.
2. Manifested as a Jyotirlinga on Maha Shivratri :
The Manifestation of Lord Shiva in the form of the first effulgent Linga was on this special day of Mahashivratri, and thus all devotees pray to the effulgent Linga (Jyotirlinga) of Lord Shiva.
3. Maha Shivratri - The Day Of Shiva & Parvati 's marriage :
The day marks the marriage of Lord Shiva & His divine consort Goddess Parvati.
4. Story of Chitrabhanu:
In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma, while resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivratri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows. Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa, was observing a fast with his wife on Mahashivratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king.
Read more about Shivaratri stories on the Next