– NIVEDITA CHOUDHARY
Shivratri is a major Hindu festival, celebrated to honour Lord Shiva and is celebrated annually around February/March.
Shiva is viewed as the spirit of everything. There is no distinction between our spirit and Lord Shiva. Since Lord Shiva symbolizes truth, peace, magnificence, and infinity. He speaks to the pith of our spirit too. It is what we are made of. When we love Lord Shiva, we perceive these higher characteristics inside ourselves.
The festival focuses on fasting, the marriage between Shiva and Parvati, and most importantly on self-introspection. Unlike most Hindu festivals, this particular one is celebrated at night. This is because Shivratri is marked as the night to overcome darkness and ignorance.
Offerings of fruits, sweets, milk and leaves are made to Shiva, some meditate and some perform all-day fasting. Shaiva Hindus perform jaagran, an all-night prayers and vigil to self-study. Om Namah Shivaya is chanted in all the Shiva temples throughout the day.
There are many legends that mark the importance of the day. Some say that it is the day when Shiva and Parvati got married. Legends also say that this is the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to safeguard our world. Another says that this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction.
Some of the places to celebrate Mahashivratri in the country are:
1. Haridwar, Uttarakhand- Most Shiva followers will be seen at Neelkanth Mahadev Temple.
2. Guwahati, Assam- One of the most leading celebrations in India is done at the Umananda Temple.
3. Junagadh, Gujarat- Famous for its Shivratri Mela, Junagadh attracts thousands of people from all around India.
4. Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh- Celebrated mainly in Mahakaleshwar Temple, it is one of the 12 world famous jyotilings as well.
“Every Mahashivratri is meant to wake up every particle of your body. The festival is a wake-up call to move away from conflicts and move towards truth, beauty, peace, and benevolence – the ethereal qualities of Shiva.”
– Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar