The festival of Maha Shivratri is nearly upon us. On this occasion, we have decided to regale you with the stories associated with the origin of Maha Shivaratri.
Most festivals in India have a couple of stories and legends associated with it. The festival of Maha Shivratri is no exception to the rule.
Read on to find a few stories that explain why Maha Shivratri is celebrated. These stories are read and narrated during and after the pooja and before breaking the fast. Doing this will surely bring you the grace of Maheshwara. Have a look.
Also Read: Things you should do on Maha Shivratri
The Story Of Samudra Manthan
Once upon a time, the Devas and the Asuras decided to churn the 'Ksheera Sagar' - the sea of milk. This was to bring out 'Amrut' - the celestial nectar. Amrut had the ability to make people immortal.
Mount Meru was selected to be the churner and Lord Shiva's Snake - Vasuki was to be the rope used to churn. The Devas held the tail and the Asuras the mouth.
As the churning began, Vasuki started spewing 'Halahal' - terribly poisonous venom that could destroy the world. To save the world from destruction, Lord Shiva collected it and drank it.
Goddess Parvati held Lord Shiva's neck, so that the poison would not be swallowed and Lord Vishnu held his mouth closed to make sure that the poison does not spill out.
They stayed this way for the whole night. The poison stayed in Lord Shiva's neck and therefore it turned blue. This gave Lord Shiva the name 'Neelkanth'.
To commemorate this sleepless night, Maha Shivratri is celebrated across India where devotees keep fasts and stay awake the whole night.
The Story Of The Brahma-Vishnu Fight
Once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu got into a fight about who was the mightiest. The fight grew in intensity and the gods asked Lord Shiva to intervene.
Lord Shiva appeared as a huge fiery beam of light. The beam was so humongous that its ends could not be seen. Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva decided that whoever finds the ends first shall be declared the most powerful.
Lord Brahma took the form of a swan and flew upwards and Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and dug his way underground.
They went a long way but still could not find the ends. As Lord Brahma flew upwards, he saw a Ketki flower said that it came from the head of the beam. Lord Brahma returned with the flower to the meeting point and presented it as a proof that he had found the head of the beam.
Lord Vishnu accepted his defeat. It was then that Lord Shiva appeared and cursed Lord Brahma that he would never be worshipped by the humans. Ketki flower was also cursed to be never used in poojas of any kind.
It is believed that Lord Shiva appears as the beam on the 14th day of the Dark phase of the moon in the month of Phalguna. Thus, Maha Shivratri is being celebrated since then on this very day.
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The Story Of The Tribal Man
There was a tribal man who once ventured into the forest to collect firewood. He went too far into the forest and lost his way. The night fell and the animals of prey started making terrifying sounds.
Scared, the tribal man climbed a tree. He was so frightened that he started crying. As the time passed, he started feeling sleepy. He was worried that he would fall asleep.
So, he started picking the leaves of the tree one by one and started dropping them with Lord Shiva on his mind. Thus, he spent the night safely.
In the morning, he realised that the tree he had climbed was a Bilwa tree and below it was a Shiva Linga. He had first washed the Linga with his tears and and then had dropped a thousand Bilwa leaves one by one on it.
Lord Shiva then appeared and granted the tribal man good wealth and divine bliss.
Since that day, Maha Shivratri is being celebrated every year by observing fast and abstaining from sleep.