The glory and grandeur of Maha-Shivratri 

It has been a human quest to find stability, love, and power amid his grimy mundane life. But this search leads one to a place of weariness, and indeed it ends in endless profligacy. And it has been found that it is only after resting his belief system on the almighty’s power, that he can find peace. The path to inner happiness of Hindus is believed to be in fasting and celebrating myriad festivals that have special religious importance attached to them. The understanding of the customs and rituals with which these festivals are celebrated allows mankind to become one with the spiritual development of life on this mother earth.

Ages-old Hindu culture is all about different types of festivals, religious observances, and religious events. This culture is so rich in festivals that each day of the year is celebrated with undivided religious zest. Indians take special pride in celebrating these festive moments with great enthusiasm and gusto. One on the list is the festival of Maha Shivratri, which is also known as the Great night of Ziva. It bears special mythological importance for Hindus. This is one of the most important sectarian festivals among devotees of Lord Shiva or the Hindu god “Zhiva”. This is observed on the 14th night of the darker half of the month Phalgun or February. According to Hindu mythology, this day is celebrated with full religious fervor as on this day Lord Shiva appeared in Linga containing the power of the lord sun. This day is celebrated by all devotees by keeping fast during the day and paying reverence to the god at night. It is believed that on this night, the lord showers salvation to life.

Maha Shivratri holds special significance to Indian females. Married women pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons; whereas unmarried females keep fast and pay reverence to Lord Shiva to get married to an ideal husband. Special pooja rituals are carried out in all the shiva temples across India. Priests and devotees contribute by chanting hymns praising the god and om namah shivaya mantra; which is so powerful that it releases one from all sins. This day also holds scientific and spiritual significance. As per astrology, the moon gets near to the sun on this day, creating a perfect timing for communion between two sustainable forces. It is the union between the force of life and beauty with Shiva himself. And hence, he showers special merits and spiritual blessings on his devotees.

Story of this festival

Hindu scriptures narrate different stories behind this festival of Maha Shivratri. But there is one story in the glory of this festival that is known widely. Once upon a time, there was a hunter called Gurudruh, who used to live in the woods of Baranasi. He was a cruel hunter and hunting was his only livelihood. One day his family demanded food and he wandered here and there in the forest in the hope of finding food. But failing this, he continued his hunt at the night. So, he climbed a tree called Bilva and sat there to wait for his prey. He saw a thirsty deer there; he tried to hunt it but failed. He tried four times that night, but could not succeed. But with each attempt, water spilled from the pot he had tied to his waist, and also some of the leaves fell on a Shiv lingam that was right under that tree. So, unknowingly he made offerings to Lord Shiva and that too four times. Being the night of Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva was pleased by his offerings and blessed him by appearing before him. This changed the hunter’s life and he achieved salvation. 

The festival of Maha Shivratri is celebrated by devotees not only out of devotion and faith but to help maintain vedic and cultural ethics and values in their lives. The fast that is observed on this day is believed to be the greatest of all, filling life with positivity and enabling humans to live an unbiased and peaceful life.

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