Guiding Light: Significance of Shiva & Shivratri
Isha Foundation

By Shiv Rajvanshi

Maha Shivratri is celebrated with fanfare and earnestness by the Hindu community in honour of Lord Shiva and notably marks the day of the celebration of the marriage of Shiva and Goddess Parvati. As per the Hindu calendar, Shivratri is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha. The festival is lionized as it marks a remembrance of overcoming darkness and ignorance in life.  It says that a devotee who performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivratri is exonerated of sins and attains moksha.

According to sacred scriptures, ritual worship of Lord Shiva on Shivratri that falls once a year in late winter phalgun in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar. It says that by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting and meditating on ethics and virtues such as honesty, charity, forgiveness. Even till date devotees stay awake all night and visit temples or go on pilgrimages to Jyotirlingams and perform rituals by giving a sacred bath to Shivling with honey, milk, water etc.

According to some, Shivratri is celebrated as the day when Shiva saved the world from the pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan. If legends are to be believed, Lord Shiva drank the poison and stored it in his throat, which turned it blue and hence he is also known as Neelkanth. 

Another legend goes on to say that Shivratri is celebrated as the day when Brahma and Vishnu got miffed about their supremacy over each other and an angry Lord Shiva punished them by taking the form of a massive fire that spread across the length of the universe. Vishnu and Brahma then got into the race to find the end of the fire and prove their adroitness only to be dismayed. Brahma resorted to a lie and angered Shiva who cursed him (The curse was no one would ever pray to Brahma).

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