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Maha Shivaratri festival also referred to as Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri or Shivaratri, means the Great Night of Shiva. The holiday honours Lord Shiva and his marriage to goddess Parvati, the mother divine. Lord Shiva is one of the major Hindu deities, and he is believed to be the founder of Yoga and meditation.
What are the Maha Shivaratri legends?
Several legends are associated with Maha Shivaratri. According to one myth, a hunter could not find any prey in the forest and therefore took a rest under the Woodapple tree. He then started throwing leaves on the ground with the hope of attracting a deer. Unknown to the hunter, there was a Shiva Lingam beneath the tree. Amused by the hunter's patience and the Woodapple leaves, Lord Shiva appeared to the hunter and blessed him with wisdom. Since then, the hunter stopped eating meat.
Another legend states that the earth was once faced with too much destruction, and Goddess Parvati pleaded with Lord Shiva to save it. Lord Shiva agreed to this on the condition that the people of the world would worship him with great dedication. Since then, Hindus named that night Maha Shivaratri, and it was dedicated to worshipping Lord Shiva.
When is Maha shivaratri?
Maha Shivaratri is observed for only one day or night in the mid-month of Phalguna in the Hindu calendar. The date usually coincides with February or March of the Gregorian calendar.
Is Maha shivaratri a public holiday?
Maha Shivaratri is a gazetted public holiday in India. It is observed in most states and territories and a day off to the general public.
What is open or closed on Maha Shivaratri?
On Maha Shivaratri, government offices, schools, banks, post offices, and businesses remain closed. Some stores may, however, open but operate on reduced hours. Public transport may be affected too, it is vital to check with the local transport authorities for changes in the timetable.
Things to do on Maha shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is a day of prayers for most Hindus. As a Hindu, it is required that you fast on the Maha Shivaratri night as you sing hymns and worship Lord Shiva. You could also head to the temple and spend your night offering long prayers to Lord Shiva. People believe that by spending the night praying and fasting, you attract good luck into your life.
The most popular celebrations of Maha Shivaratri are in the city of Ujjain, which is believed to be Lord Shiva's residence. You can participate in the procession and witness the revered idol of Lord Shiva during the street processions.
It is a tradition for as a devotee to bathe in the Ganges and other holy water bodies. After the bath, you will need to wear clean clothes, carry water pots, and pour them on the Shiva.
Maha Shivaratri is a special day for women as it carries a lot of significance. It is common for unmarried women in West Bengal to travel to Tarakeswar and offer prayers dedicated to seeking a good husband. Other women elsewhere bath Lord Shiva with milk while offering prayers of protection for their sons and husbands. It is believed that Goddess Parvati offered similar prayers to wade off any evil that could possibly harm her husband.
As a devotee of Lord Shiva, you can decorate the temple with colorful lights, garlands, and flowers and then offer Lord Shiva wood apples, milk, and cold water as it is considered his favourite. These gestures are done to plead with Shiva to protect the world from all evil for humanity's well-being.
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