Maha Shivaratri is the auspicious night of Lord Shiva, which falls on the Krishna Paksha Trayodashi/ Chaturdashi in the month of Falgun as per North Indian calendars and Magha Krishna Trayodasi/ Chaturdashi as per Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh calendars. Maha Shivaratri, the great grand night of Lord Shiva is being celebrated this Wednesday, the 2nd of March, 2011. Some Ashrams and Hindu communities in India will observing Shivratri on March 3rd as Chaturdasi Tithi is on March 3rd. The confusion regarding Shivratri date is because the night period during Chaturdashi tithi falls on March 2nd instead of March 3rd in India and western hemisphere. Amavasya starts during the night of March 3rd. This holy night of Maha Shivaratri is observed on the night before ‘amavasya’ or no moon day. On this night Lord Shiva is worshipped in a special form of Linga called ‘Lingodabhavamurti.’
The History of Mahashivratri
yy In the Puranas many myths, stories and legends explain the origin and significance of the festival Maha Shivaratri.
yy Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Bramha had an argue over each other’s prowess. Lord Shiva challenged both of them. He appeared as a flaming Linga and challenged the duo to measure the gigantic Linga. Lord Bramha, who took the form of a swan, and Lord Vishnu who became a boar and went to Netherland, were both unable to measure the Shivlinga. Then Lord Shiva came out of the Linga and declared himself as the most powerful.
yy Shiva was married to Parvati on this day. According to the legend when King Daksha, opposed Sati's marriage with Shiva. The King organized a yagnya and ignored Shiva’s presence and thereby insulted the latter publicly. Sati got angered by this and jumped into the sacrificial fire and ended her life. Lord Shiva unleashed his fury at the death of his wife by performing the violent dance, Taandav. He wiped out Daksha’s kingdom, undertook rigorous penance and retired to the Himalayas. The Gods, who feared that the severity of Shiva’s penance might bring an end to the world, revived Sati in the new avatar of Parvati.
yy According to another legend Lord Shiva consumed the pot of poison that emerged during the Samudra Manthan, to protect the world.
Maha Shivratri and Amavasya
The significance of Maha Shivaratri is closely associated with ‘Amavasya’ -- the no moon night as per traditional Hindu Calendar. Amavasya symbolically represents Kaliyuga or spiritual ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared just before the beginning of Kaliyuga to rid the world of evil and ignorance. Therefore Maha Shivratri is also celebrated to get rid of evil and ignorance.
“Om Namah Shivay”
Chant this mantra on the auspicious day with perfect devotion and concentration.
Om Tat Sat