In Hinduism, Shivarathri means the 'Great Night of Lord Shiva’. According to the Hindu calendar, Shivarathri that falls on every month is known as Masik Shivarathri.
As per Hindus, the importance of Masik Shivarathri is that by worshipping Lord Shiva on this auspicious day their sins will get washed away and they will attain Moksha by the grace of Lord Shiva.
Shivarathri falls on the 14th night of moonless (Amavasya) or new-moon night and is a very special day for the Hindus all over the world. Masik Shivarathri celebrated in the month of Phalguna is called Maha Shivarathri.
Maha Shivarathri occurs only once in a year and is considered as the favourite day of Lord Shiva.
Of the twelve Masik Shivarathris, Maha Shivarathri is considered as the most holiest day and is celebrated with reverence of Lord Shiva. The great significance of Masik Shivarathri is that it is the divine night of convergence of Shiva and Shakti.
In order to know the importance of Masik Shivarathri, we will go a step ahead and look at all the legends associated with Shivarathri.
Emergence Of Jyothirlinga:
Once, during the 14th day of Magha month, Brahma and Vishnu had a dispute to find out who is the supreme god in this whole universe. Then, Lord Shiva revealed his lingam form to throw light and showed his supremacy. We celebrate this day as Maha Shivarathri.
Marriage Of Lord Shiva And Goddess Parvathi:
It is on the day of Maha Shivarathri that Lord Shiva married goddess Parvathi. The devotees celebrate this auspicious day by applying ashes to their forehead and preparing a drink that causes addiction called bhang.
the Neelkanth: Hindus believe that it is on the day of Shivarathri that Lord Shiva drank a poison called Halahal that surfaced during the churning of the milky ocean. Lord Shiva's throat turned blue and hence he is also worshipped as Neelkanth. This day is one of the greatest significances of Masik Shivarathri that the devotees celebrate as Shivarathri.
Tandava means the dance of destruction and preservation, and it is on the day of Shivarathri that Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nruthya.
Now, let us look at the importance of Masik Shivarathri and the rituals and benefits associated with it.
Path Of Salvation:
The devotees bathe the linga of Lord Shiva with milk, sugar, water and honey, as this signifies the purification of the inner soul. In order to purify the soul from all impurities, devotees chant the mantra ‘Om Nama Shivay' and Mahamrintunjay jap.
Fulfilment Of Desires:
Devotees offer fruits to the Almighty, as this signifies the fulfilment and endurance of one's desire. As a sign of satisfaction, devotees offer betel leaves as well.
Knowledge And Wealth:
Lamps and incense sticks are lit as a signification of knowledge and as a sign of prosperity and wealth.
Inner Happiness And Satisfaction:
Hindus believe that rudraksha originated from the tears of Lord Shiva and to make Lord Shiva happy, they wear the Rudraksha Mala. Also, a paste of vermilion is applied to the Shiv Linga to affirm the virtue of a person.
Long And Happy Life:
Women devotees keep fast or Vrath during Masik Shivarathri to please the goddess Parvathi and to pray for a happy life for their entire family.
So, pray to Lord Shiva, the supreme God, and have a blessed spiritual life.