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Mahashivaratri 2024: Significance, Rituals, and Legends

Significance of Mahashivaratri 2024: Great night of Lord Shiva

The Spiritual Significance of Mahashivaratri 2024: Commemorating the Great Night of Lord Shiva

Understanding Mahashivaratri 2024

In 2024, Mahashivratri, the ‘Great Night of Lord Shiva’, will be celebrated on 08th March. Maha Shivaratri refers to the reunion of Shiva and Shakti, and the perfect time to satisfy Lord Shiva to get his blessings. Read on to know more.

The Date: Mahashivaratri 2024

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Mahashivaratri on Friday, 8th March 2024.

Shivratri is celebrated on the Chaturdashi of every Hindu lunar month according to the classical text Nirnaya Sindhu. The Chaturdashi which falls in the dark fortnight of the Magha month of the Hindu calendar is called Maha Shivratri. The day is regarded as auspicious for getting the blessings of Lord Shiva, so people do various things to impress Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri.

What Is Mahashivratri?

The word ‘Maha’ means ‘great’, and ‘Shivratri’ means ‘the night of Shiva’. So it is known as the ‘great night of lord Shiva’. On the occasion of Maha Shivratri, people keep fast. You can also keep a fast on Mahashivratri to show your dedication and devotion towards Lord Shiva. Maha Shivratri is celebrated hugely in India, with Nepal joining the gusto of this grand celebration. There are several facts related to Maha Shivratri.

Mahashivaratri 2024: Rituals & Fasting

Devotees should eat only one meal on the day preceding the night of Chaturdashi Tithi (be it the day of Chaturdashi or Trayodashi Tithi) according to the classical text Nirnaya Sindhu. It also states that devotees should worship Shiva Parivar on the same night also. The fast starts the next morning after performing all the daily routine tasks like bathing, worshipping, etc. Devotees need to start the fast after taking the oath of observing it with full devotion. But if Chaturdashi continues till the night, the fast should not be broken even after dusk. Instead, it should be followed until the Chaturdashi Tithi is over.
Devotees celebrate Mahashivratri with great enthusiasm. People sing religious songs and hymns to please Lord Shiva. All over the country, the temples are decorated, as Mahashivaratri is celebrated on a large scale. On this particular day, people offer wood apple leaves, milk water, etc. while worshipping Lord Shiva. These things are considered the favourite things of Lord Shiva.

Observance Rituals for Mahashivaratri

All over the night, devotees chant Mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” to please Lord Shiva. The proper method of keeping a fast and celebrating the great festival of Mahashivratri, dedicated to Lord Shiva is mentioned below:-

  1. Begin the day with a bath using water boiled with sesame seeds and don new clothes.
  2. Maintain a fast, consuming only fruits and milk.
  3. Visit a nearby Lord Shiva temple, performing rituals such as bathing the Shiva Lingam with milk, water, honey etc. and chanting the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya.”
  4. After performing this sacred bath, apply turmeric and vermilion to the Shiva Lingam, adorned with a lotus flower garland.
  5. Offer bel leaves by keeping them on the top of the Lingam.
  6. Then, engage in hymns and prayers, accompanied by lighting incense sticks.
  7. Conclude by ringing the temple bell, seeking Lord Shiva’s blessings.

Significance of Mahashivaratri Fasting

It is believed that if a person observes Maha Shivaratri fast with full devotion and dedication, then the person can overcome all evils. The fast of Mahashivratri enables one to control the two natural tendencies. One is Rajas Guna which refers to the quality of acting with passion, and the other one is Tamas Guna which refers to the quality of being less active. According to the belief if a person observes the fast and remains awake the whole night to worship Lord Shiva, then the person suppresses and conquers the Tamas Guna. A person, who can get over this Guna, lives a happy life free from the unending cycle of birth and death.

Spiritual Essence of Maha Shivratri

Shiva and Shakti are the symbol of awareness and oneness. In English ‘maha’ means big, Shiva indicates positivity, and Ratri means night. So, one can identify his/her inner self on the day of Maha Shivratri. As night indicates ignorance, Maha Shivaratri tells us that one can be rescued from the darkness of ignorance. One can also achieve a higher level of divinity by worshipping Lord Shiva.

Legends Echoing Mahashivaratri’s Importance

Various legends are associated with Maha Shivaratri. They are related to different incidents, but they all tell the story about the importance of Mahashivratri.

  • Marriage of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati:
    At first, Lord Shiva got married to Sati, daughter of King Daksha. But King Daksha was not happy with the marriage. During a Yagna (holy sacrifice), King Daksha insulted Lord Shiva. Sati became very angry. Unable to bear her husband’s insult, she jumped into the fire of Yagna and finished her life. Lord Shiva became furious and performed Tandav nritya(violent dance) in anger and cut off Daksha’s head. He then went to the Himalayas, as he was sad about his wife’s death. Seeing all this, all the gods planned to bring back Lord Shiva; so they made Sati in the form of Goddess Parvati. When Lord Shiva and Parvati got married, that occasion was named Mahashivratri.
  • Lord Shiva: The Neelkanth:
    It is believed that the process of the churning of the Ocean (Samudra Manthan) took place by all the gods and demons. This Manthan was planned to get Amrit or the immortality nectar out of the ocean. But, during this churning, a very poisonous toxin came out from the mouth of the snake. That toxin was poisonous enough to kill everyone on the earth. So, Lord Vishnu advised all the gods to go to Lord Shiva and ask him for help. Lord Shiva agreed to save the earth when all the gods went to him. The poison turned his throat blue, and so he was named Neelkanth. It was told to keep Lord Shiva awake all over the night to get safety from any after-effects of poison. To keep him awake, all the gods performed various dance forms and played music. Lord Shiva became happy with the pleasing devotion of all the gods in the morning. He said that if anyone would worship and please him on the day of Mahashivratri, his/ her wishes would be fulfilled. From that day onward, the process goes on like this.
  • Emergence of Jyotirlinga: The Pillar Of Light:
    Once Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma fought for who was greater among them. When the quarrel kept on rising, all the gods went to the Lord Shiva and asked him to solve the matter between them. Lord Shiva then came to finish the fight between them. He formed a pillar of light between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu and asked them to find the end of the light emitting from the pillar. Sitting on a swan, Lord Brahma went up while Lord Vishnu went toward earth sitting on Varaha. Brahma while going up saw that Ketaki was falling from the top of the pillar. So, he took it along with him to prove that he saw the top of the fire pillar. Failing to find the end, Lord Vishnu came back. But when Lord Brahma was lying, Lord Shiva told him that he would not be worshipped and Ketaki flower would also not be used for worshipping gods. Lord Shiva emerged as the pillar of light, on the fourteenth day of the Hindu month of Magha. Since then, the day has been celebrated as Maha Shivratri.

Conclusion

Mahashivaratri isn’t just a celebration; it’s a spiritual journey that unites devotees with Lord Shiva, invoking blessings and enlightenment.

FAQs About Mahashivaratri 2024

What is the significance of fasting on Mahashivaratri?

Fasting on this auspicious day purifies the soul and helps overcome natural tendencies, fostering spiritual growth.

Why do devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya” during Mahashivaratri?

This mantra is a powerful invocation of Lord Shiva’s energy, fostering a deep spiritual connection.

How does Mahashivaratri transcend religious boundaries?

The essence of unity and awareness promoted during Mahashivaratri transcends religious affiliations, embracing all seekers of spiritual enlightenment.

Click Here for Oder MahaShivaratri Puja online 2024.

Are there regional variations in the way Mahashivaratri is celebrated?

Yes, different regions in India and Nepal exhibit diverse customs and rituals while celebrating Mahashivaratri.

Can people of all ages participate in Mahashivaratri rituals?

Mahashivaratri welcomes devotees of all ages, emphasizing inclusivity and spiritual awakening.

Hope this article will help you to understand the significance of Mahashivaratri.

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