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Maha Shivratri: A Comprehensive Guide to the Most Important Hindu Festival of the Year

Maha Shivratri is an important Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Phalguna (February-March). This year, Maha Shivratri will be observed on 18th February 2023.

Maha Shivratri is considered to be one of the most auspicious days for Hindus and it marks the convergence of divine energies. People observe a strict fast on this day and offer prayers to Lord Shiva, seeking his blessings for health, wealth, and prosperity. Devotees also perform special rituals such as Abhishekam (bathing with holy water) and Puja (offering flowers and incense) to seek his divine grace.

What is the Importance of Maha Shivratri?

Mahashivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of “Lord Shiva” the god of destruction. Shivratri is celebrated in every month of the lunisolar calendar in accordance with the Hindu calendar but once a year in late winter (Mahashivratri is celebrated to commemorate the oncoming summer).

Mahashivratri literally translates as the great knight of lord shiva and according to legends, it is on this night that lord shiva performs his heavenly dance or tandem representing creation preservation, and destruction.

Note: As per many, it is also the day when Shiva and Parvati got married thus the union of Prakriti and Purusha for the well-being of the world.

The Whole Story of Mahashivratri

Devi Sati was the daughter of the great king (Prajapati Daksh) and the son of lord Brahma. Sati is an incarnation of Shakti who was destined to unite with Shiva for the welfare of the universe. However, Raja Daksh did not want his daughter Sati to marry shiva as he considered Shiva a dirty ascetic unworthy of being a god or being married to his daughter from a noble family.

Sati, however, disobeyed her father and married Shiva after her marriage she moved to her husband’s abode the Kelash mountains. Once Prajapati Daksh organized a sacrificial ceremony also known as a Yagya and invited all gods and devas to attend his grand Yagya. Due to his hatred towards Shiva, he did not invite both Shiva and his daughter Sati to the Yagya.

When Sathi came to hear of the Yagya being organized by her father through Narad Muni, she longed to go home and attend it Shiva tried to talk her out of the idea trying to explain that they had not been invited and it was obvious that the king did not want them there. But Sati ignored her husband’s advice and went to the Yagya by herself.

Upon reaching, she felt deeply saddened to see that no one except her mother Prasuti was delighted to see her not even her father Daksha. She realized that she was now unwelcome in her own house Daksh was furious by her uninvited arrival and humiliated her and mocked Shiva.

Maha Shivratri Article

Daksh began insulting shiva in front of all his guests and Sati could not bear any insults towards her husband, wanting to break all ties with her father and uphold the honor of her husband. Sati self-immolated herself deeply hurt by the loss of his beloved wife Shiva performed the destructive tandem dance.

He created two ferocious creatures Veerabhadra and Bhadrakali who wrecked mayhem at the sacrificial place nearly all those present were felt overnight. Daksa was decapitated by Veerabhadra.

After that night shiva who is considered the all-forgiving restored all those who were slain to life and granted them his blessings.

Daksa was also restored back to his life and kingship his severed head was substituted for that of a goat. After the death of his first wife Sati, Shiva withdrew himself from society and then grossed himself in deep meditation.

Taking advantage of the situation the asura king Tarakasur secured a boon from Lord Brahma that he could only be killed by the son of Shiva, believing himself effectively immortal Tarakasa terrorized the beings of the universe and defeated the gods. Meanwhile Parvati the reincarnation of Sati was born to Himawan the god of the Himalayas and his wife Mena.

When Parvati grew up sage Narad Muni told her that she was born to marry Shiva but she would have to follow the path of penance to please shiva as he had withdrawn himself from worldly affairs.

Determined to marry shiva in her new birth as well Parvati embarked upon an extremely difficult regime of penance and devotion for thousands of years she only ate fruits and flowers, and after that, for hundreds of years, she ate only fallen leaves.

Eventually giving up on all food and living on air to survive due to thousands of years of severe penance her body became extremely weak and fragile. The news of her penance spread all over the world.

In the end, Lord Brahma appeared in front of Parvati and told her that no one in the entire universe had observed or done tapasya or penance the way she did not even Shiva. He blessed her to soon be married to Lord Shiva and gave her the name Brahmacharyani for her immense determination and penance.

Mabramhacharani is also the second form of Maa Durga celebrated on the second day of Navratri. On the other hand in desperate need of help from Shiva to have his child who could bring an end to the demon Tarakasur. God sent Kambadev the god of love to disrupt Shiva’s meditation. Though Shiva was awakened by kamadev’s arrow, Kamadev was burnt up by Shiva’s anger and implored by the other gods to marry.

Shiva agreed but decided to test Parvati’s devotion, first Shiva disguised himself as a hermit and reached the place where Parvati was engrossed in her penance upon being there he began criticizing Shiva.

He tried to influence Parvati into giving up her tapasya for Shiva, who he said was an embodiment of inauspiciousness, who carries skulls in his hand and who lives in a crematorium. Parvati angry by the comments of the hermit asks him to leave her alone. Even upon many attempts at changing her mind, Parvati did not get affected her unwavering sense of devotion pleased lord Shiva and he appeared in his original form and blessed her to be married to him.

On the day of the marriage, Shiva reaches king Heemawan’s palace in the most air-rising form along with the strangest marriage procession, his body was covered with snakes smeared in ashes and his hair was matted with unkempt locks. His marriage procession consisted of ghosts ascetics sages Agorys etc.

Upon seeing the terrorizing form of lord Shiva, Parvati’s mother, and other relatives were left in a state of shock. Most of them fainted out of fear and terror to avoid any embarrassment to their family or to her husband Shiva, Parvati transformed herself into a different form as well. In this form, she was golden possessed ten arms and was called Chandraghanta.

In the form of Chandraghanta, she prayed and persuaded Shiva to take the form of a handsome prince and also turn his marriage procession nobler. So the people can see their gentler side and not be fearful of them.

Shiva and Parvati got married in their beautiful divine forms and the day of their marriage is celebrated as Mahashivratri every year. Skandapuran also narrates the story of when the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvati took place in the Himalayas.

All the living beings on earth headed to the north towards the great white mountains to witness the grand wedding because of this earth began losing her balance. So lord Shiva asked sage Agustia to go to the south to balance the earth’s equilibrium.

Sage Agustia was pleased with this honor but was also saddened because he would not be able to witness the divine wedding perceiving the thoughts in the rishi’s mind.

Shiva granted him a boon that he and Parvati would appear before Agastya whenever the latter happened to think of them. Pleased with the moon sage Agastya began his journey southwards.

In this Maha Shivratri, contribute in Rudraabhishek from Kashi (Banaras) with Sankalp on muhurta that comes in once in 20 Years – Shani Pradosh + Mahashivatri, 18th Feb 2023 at Mano Kameshwar temple, Manakarnika Ghat, Varanasi.

Note: No recordings are possible at all due to temple regulations.

Rudraabhishek During Pradosh + 108 Bilva Aparnam During Shivaratra With seven Pandits.

As per Kashi Khand, reciting one Gayatri at Manikarnika is equal to reciting 10000 Gayatris elsewhere.

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