Joined: 15 December 2004
Maha Siva Raatri means the great night of Lord Shiva and it is observed on the fourteenth lunar night(chaturdasi)of the dark forthnight(Krishna Paksh)in the Hindu month of Phalgun.This corresponds to late February and early March in the English calendar.
Maha Siva Raatri's time duration is such that the lunar day or thithi(chaturdasi in this case)must pass through midnight.A great deal of preparation is involved in order to celebrate this religious event since it requires the performance of Pooja(prayers).
Lord Siva is the Devta or diety worshipped here.His worship is done in the form of a Lingam Pooja.
The Lingam is a stone with an oval shape and it represents the abstract form of God.
Siva - the word meaning auspicious - is one of the Hindu Trinity, comprising of Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the Preserver and Shiv or Mahesh, the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life. Time is invisible and formless. Therefore Mahakal Shiv, as per the Vedas, manifested himself as "LINGUM" to make mankind aware of the presence of Eternal Time. That day when Shiv manifested himself in the form of "Lingum" was the fourth day of the dark night in the month of Magh i.e. February-March. This is confirmed by Rishi Markendeya in the sloka :-
"That night, when the many-splendoured Shiv-Lingum
dazzled the world with its appearance, was the night of the
Mahashivratri- the night of the great Siva". This
Mahashivratri festival continues to be celebrated for ever and
ever. Maharishi Narada advised mankind to fast on this day and
pray to the All Powerful Siva so that in all His kindness He
pardons all the sins that are committed in the past three
Lord Siva is portrayed as an ascetic, sitting on a tiger skin, a bunch of poisonous snakes coiled round his blue neck, his hair and his body. He received the waters of the sacred river Ganga that rushed down from heaven with an unimaginable force and ferocity in the coil of his hair on his head to save the world from total annihilation and released the water slowly on the plains to flow.
Lord Siva has a third eye in the centre of his forehead along with a crescent moon. His most powerful weapon is the Trishul, the trident. His favourite mount is the sacred bull, Nandi who is also worshipped. His abode is on the high majestic Kailash mountain where he resides with his celestial consort goddess Parvati.
Lord Siva is worshipped in the form of 'Siva Lingum' which
symbolises the power behind the creation. As Nataraj, the master
of the art of dancing, he is depicted in sculptures in bronze and
images in metal. In fact, the entire world of art revolves round
Lord Shiv and goddess Parvati.
Lord Siva is known by many names like Shankar, Mahesh, Bholenath, Neelakanth, Shambhu Kailasheshwar, Umanath, Nataraj and others. He is the most sought-after deity amongst the Hindus and pray to him as the god of immense large-heartedness who they believe grant all their wishes.
Thus this Mahashivratri festival is in honour of Lord Siva. Devotees observe fast the whole day and keep vigil throughout the night. After fasting the whole day devotees bathe with the water that is boiled with black sesame seeds to wash away bodily impurities. Then putting on new clothes they wash the Lingum with milk and perform religious rites, put haldi-kumkum on the lingum and a garland of white and pink lotus flowers. Bel leaves are placed in front of the Lingum and "aarthi" and "bhajans" are sung to invoke his blessings.
The aroma of the lighted agarbattis seem to float in the air and from temples are heard the chinning of the bells and the sound of melodious devotional songs. All this surely must reach Mount Kailash and wake Him up from his deep meditation to bless mankind. Our ancient religious scriptures specially 'Linga Puran', abound with stories of Lord Siva's kindness and large-heartedness in giving boons to His devotees.
Young unmarried girls observe day-long fast, keep awake the whole night, sing devotional songs and pray to Lord Shanker to give them good and virtuous husbands.
During Maha Siva Raatri,Hindus observe fasting. They abstain from eating and drinking forbidden foods and they will make all the necessary preparations for the Pooja which begins at sunset.
Actually,the complete Maha Siva Raatri Pooja consists of four individual poojas. The first Pooja starts at sunset and with two hour intervals,the remaining three is done.The last one must finish at midnight.A vigil is maintained all night until before sunrise of the next morning. Bhajans and kirtan(hymns and praises)are encouraged in order to maintain this vigil and also discourses relevant to the occasion are read.
The first Pooja culminates with the offering of milk; at the end of the second Dahee or curds are offered ; at the end of the third Ghee (cow's butter) is offered and at the end of the last Pooja, honey is offered on the Lingam.
From midnight until before sunrise next morning, Jal or water is offered on the Lingam .However,the most important article of worship in this Pooja is Bail leaves (the leaves of the wood apple tree). These leaves are exceedingly loved by Lord Shiva and the offering of same brings some form of spiritual elevation to the person who has made such an offering. In order to achieve the maximum benefits,the services of a qualified Pandit (Hindu priest) is very important in performing this Pooja.
Important Notes On Maha Siva Raatri.....
Lord Siva grants His blessings to His devotees who worships Him on the night of Maha Shiva Raatri.Worshiping Him on this night promotes spiritual growth.
Maha Shiva Raatri does not in any way relate to the birthday or the wedding of Lord Shiva.Any such discourses read on this night is purely coincidental and does not indicate that these incidents took place on the night of Maha Shiva Raatri.,BR>
Care should be taken in the selection of a Lingam. A Lingam with an image of Lord Shiva and /or His consort Parvati or a snake as is commonly seen,is NOT considered as a Lingam but as a Murti. Therefore,it is not appropriate to use such,as a Lingam for this purpose. The Lingam is a representation of the infinite form of God,without beginning and without end and this cannot be effectively represented by a Lingam with a human resemblance.
The offering of Jal (water)on the Lingam should NOT extend on to daytime of the following day. The word Raatri means night and any worship that extends into daytime violates the concept of night and day and constitutes sin.
Siva Raatri occurs once a month on the night of the fourteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh or the dark forthnight.There are eleven Shiva Raatris in a year but in Malmaas,there is one more and in Kshai Maas there is another. Lord Shiva is worshipped at this time with all the grandeur of Maha Shiva Raatri.The worship of the Murti can also be done at this time.
The importance of time.....
Since Maha Siva Raatri must go past midnight of the night in question,the chances are that the thithi or lunar day (chaturdashi in this case)might not last until the next morning.For example, it might finish at two o'clock in the morning;how does this affect the proceedings?
The celebrations can continue as normal and conclude at two o'clock in the morning or it can continue and conclude before the sun rises.This would be a matter of personal choice.In any event,both ways are in accordance with the Shastric (recommended) principles and are acceptable.
Shubh Maha Shivraatri!!
Paranormal Dev. Team
Joined: 15 December 2004
Joined: 02 January 2007
Joined: 13 October 2005
Happy Maha Shivaratri to all
Great Post Gracy..Nice to knw abt this day
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|!!!***Happy Maha Shivaratri to all***!!!||ramas||31||4420||09 March 2008 at 7:26am
|~* Shubh Krishna JanamAsthami*~||Gracella||2||1000||09 September 2007 at 10:48am