Why do we celebrate Maha Shivaratri?
What is Maha Shivaratri, and why do we celebrate it? Who is Shiva, and what makes Him so special? All these questions come to mind when thinking of the festival Maha Shivaratri. Let us take a deeper look into Maha Shivaratri.
Falling on March 11 of 2021, Maha Shivaratri is a religious festival observed by Hindus around the world in honour of Lord Shiva. This festival lands on the fourteenth night of the new moon and usually falls between February and March. We celebrate Maha Shivaratri to remember the overcoming of darkness and ignorance, in hopes of bringing light and knowledge into our lives. It is particularly special and important in Shaivism, which is a major tradition of Hinduism in which one worships Lord Shiva as a God.
Maha Shivaratri is particularly interesting because unlike many other Hindu festivals that are celebrated during the day, it is celebrated in the later hours of the day (at night).
Those who worship Lord Shiva stay awake during Maha Shivaratri for the entire night. Devotees also perform poojas, sing Vedic Mantras and practice meditation. Many also attend gatherings at temples and chant special prayers on the holy night of Maha Shivaratri.
Maha Shivaratri is mentioned in many Puranas, which are ancient genres of Indian literature that cover a wide range of topics. Examples of Puranas it is mentioned in include Skanda, Linga and Padma.
The significance of Maha Shivaratri is described differently based on which legend you come across. In one legend, it is said that Maha Shivaratri is the night that Lord Shiva performed a heavenly dance for creation, preservation and destruction
A second legend describes that Maha Shivaratri is the night Lord Shiva and Parvati got married. The Kalyanasundara is the depiction of Shiva and Parvati’s marriage. Lord Shiva is the lord of destruction, while Parvati is the goddess of beauty, affection and fertility. It is written in Hindu mythology that Lord Shiva had a group of people including Gods, animals and demons escort him to Parvati’s house for their marriage. Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati are known as the epitome of affection, love and power.
Maha Shivaratri is also considered to be the day that adiyogi (the first guru) “awakened his consciousness at the material level of existence.”
Meaning Behind the Name1,2,3
Let us break down the word Maha Shivaratri for you. Maha means the greatest, in terms of being the best of the best. Shiv means it is related to Lord Shiva, also known as Mahadeva, who is one of the three in the holy trinity of Hinduism; the other two are Brahma and Vishnu. Finally, ratri means something that gives you rest and comfort. When put together Maha Shivaratri means “the greatest night of Lord Shiva.”
In conclusion, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated for various reasons, all of which have stories behind them. Some stories describe the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, others explain his holy dance. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night, unlike many other Hindu festivals. Many celebrate this holy night with practicing meditation and chanting holy songs. Finally, the name Maha Shivaratri means “the greatest night of Lord Shiva.”
Bccl. (2020, February 21). 'Maha Shivratri': The Festival of convergence of Shiva and Shakti - Nation celebrates 'MAHA SHIVRATRI'. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/maha-shivratri-the-festival-of-convergence-of-shiva-and-shakti/the-ritual-of-fasting-and-rudra-abhishek/slideshow/74237774.cms
Maha Shivaratri. (2021, March 03). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maha_Shivaratri#India
Significance of Maha Shivratri: Importance of Shivratri. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from https://www.artofliving.org/mahashivratri/significance-of-mahashivratri