Maha Shivaratri

Shivaratri is great festival of convergence of Lord Shiva and Shakti.

Updated: September 25, 2018

Shivaratri is great festival of convergence of Lord Shiva and Shakti. Lord Shiva is a Hindu deity and represents the aspect of the Supreme Being. The meaning of the Sanskrit word Shiva is pure and destroyer. Shiva is the destroyer among the Trimurti according to Hindu mythology. Mahadeva, Pashupati, Bhairava, Vishwanath, Bhole Nath, Shambhu and Shanka are some of the other names of Lord shiva. Shiva is the cosmic dancer and also known as Nataraja, the Lord of Dancers.
During Krishna Paksha in month of Magha, the Chaturdashi Tithi is known as Maha Shivaratri according to South Indian calendar. But according to North Indian calendar Masik Shivaratri in month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. However both, North Indians and South Indians, celebrate Maha Shivaratri on same day.
Before marrying Goddess Parvati, Lord Shiva had married Sati, the daughter of Daksha according to Hindu mythology. Lord Shiva is often depicted immersed in deep meditation on Mount Kailash. The mount of Lord Shiva is bull Nandi.
The pictures and images of Shiva worshiped by Hindus makes him distinct from other deities in certain attributes. His tangled hair piled high on the top of His head with a crescent moon tucked to it. The river Ganges flowing out from His hairs. Around His neck or wrist a coiled serpent can be seen. He is depicted with blue throat. He holds a Trishul, a trident with a drum tied to it in His left hand. He sits on a tiger skin and shown with a Kamandal, a water pot, on His right side. He wears the Rudraksha beads and His unclad body is smeared with ash. He has a third eye on His forehead. He has two sons namely Kartikeya and Ganesha. Kartikeya is the god of war while Ganesha is the god of obstacles. 
Devotees should eat only one time the day before Shivaratri. On Shivaratri day, after finishing morning rituals devotees should take Sankalp to observe full day fast on Shivaratri and to take food next day. This fasts is very strict and people pledge for self-determination and seek God blessing before starting it to finish it successfully. Devotees should take second bath in the evening before doing Shiva Puja or visiting temple on Shivaratri day.
Shiva Puja should be done during night and devotees should break the fast next day after taking bath. To get maximum benefit of the Vrat, devotees should break the fast between sunrise and before the end of Chaturdashi Tithi. The whole night duration can be divided into four to get four Prahar to perform Shiva Puja four times. Maha Shivratri is considered especially auspicious for women. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for an ideal husband like Shiva.
In general Lord Shiva protects his devotees from evil forces and gives strength to control worldly desires such as the lust, the greed and the anger by doing this fast.
In India there are twelve holiest Shiva temples, famously known as Jyotirlinga where maha shivaratri festival is celebrated by devotees along with rest of the shiva temple in India. Om Namah Shivaya is one of the most important mantras that can be chanted throughout the day during fast.

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