Meditating Shiva on Maha-Shivratri
ਮਹਾਂ ਸ਼ਿਵਰਾਤਰੀ (Punjabi)
మహా శివరాత్రి (Telugu)
મહા શિવરાત્રી (Gujarati)
|Observed by||Hindus in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana|
|Significance||self study, Marriage of Shiva and Parvati, yoga|
|Observances||Fasting, yoga, all night vigil, worship of Lingam|
|2017 date||24 February (Friday) |
|2018 date||13 February (Tuesday)|
Maha Shivaratri a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the god Shiva. There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month's 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or Phalguna) and before the arrival of Summer, marks Maha Shivaratri which means "the Great Night of Shiva".
It is a major festival in Hinduism, this festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, noninjury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. This is an ancient Hindu festival whose origin date is unknown.
In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or phonetically simpler Haerath or Herath by Shiva faithfuls of the Kashmir region.
During the Vigil Night of Shiva, Mahashivaratri,
we are brought to the moment of interval
between destruction and regeneration;
it symbolizes the night
when we must contemplate on that which
watches the growth out of the decay.
During Mahashivaratri we have to be alone
with our sword, the Shiva in us.
We have to look behind and before,
to see what evil needs eradicating from our heart,
what growth of virtue we need to encourage.
Shiva is not only outside of us but within us.
To unite ourselves with the One Self
is to recognize the Shiva in us.
Maha Shivaratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and is particularly important in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. Furthermore, unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.
The celebration includes maintaining a "jaagaran", an all-night vigil and prayers, because Shaiva Hindus mark this night as "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in one's life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga. In Shiva temples, "Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated over three or ten days based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar. Every lunar month, there is a Shivaratri (12 per year). The main festival is called Maha Shivaratri, or great Shivaratri, and this is on 13th night (waning moon) and 14th day of the month Phalguna (Magha). According to the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in either February or March.
History and significance
According to a few God realized Yogis, Maha Shivaratri was the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world. The Maha Shivaratri is mentioned in several Puranas, particularly the Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana. These medieval era Shaiva texts present different mythologies associated with this festival, but all mention fasting and reverence for icons of Shiva such as the Lingam.
Different legends describe the significance of Maha Shivaratri. According to one legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva's presence everywhere. According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. A different legend states that the offering to Shiva icons such as the linga is an annual occasion to get over past sins if any, to restart on a virtuous path and thereby reach Mount Kailasha and liberation.
The significance of dance tradition to this festival has historical roots. The Maha Shivaratri has served as a historic confluence of artists for annual dance festivals at major Hindu temples such as at Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera and Chidambaram. This event is called Natyanjali, literally "worship through dance", at the Chidambaram temple which is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra. Similarly, at Khajuraho Shiva temples, a major fair and dance festival on Maha Shivaratri, involving Shaiva pilgrims camped over miles around the temple complex, was documented by Alexander Cunningham in 1864.
Main article: Mandi Shivaratri Fair
The major Jyotirlinga Shiva temples of India, such as in Varanasi and Somnatha, are particularly frequented on Maha Shivaratri. They serve also as sites for fairs and special events.
The Mandi fair is in the town of Mandi is particularly famous as a venue for Maha Shivaratri celebrations. It transforms the town as devotees pour in. It is believed that all gods and goddesses of the area, said to number more than 200, assemble here on the day of Maha Shivaratri. Mandi, located on the banks of Beas, is popularly known as the "Cathedral of Temples" and one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh, with about 81 temples of different Gods and Goddesses on its periphery.
Maha Shivaratri is the most important festival in Kashmir Shaivism, found in north Himalayan region of the Indian subcontinent. It is celebrated as the anniversary of the marriage of Shiva and Parvati.
Central India has a large number of Shiva followers. The Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain is one of the most venerated shrines consecrated to Shiva where a large congregation of devotees gathers to offer prayers on the day of Maha Shivaratri. Tilwara Ghat in the city of Jabalpur and the Math Temple in the village of Jeonara, Seoni are two other places where the festival is celebrated with much religious fervour.
In Punjab, Shobha Yatras would be organised by various Hindu organisations in different cities. It is a grand festival for Punjabi Hindus.
In Gujarat mahashivratri mela is held at Junagadh where bathing in the Damodar Kunda is considered holy.According to myth Lord Shiva himself comes to bath in the Damodar kunda.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated widely in the temples all over Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Maha Shivaratri is a National Holiday in Nepal and celebrated widely in temples all over the country, but especially in the Pashupatinath temple. Thousands of devotees visit the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham nearby as well.Holy rituals are performed all over the nation. Artists from various classical music and dance forms perform through the night. On Maha Shivaratri, married women pray for the well being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, considered as the ideal husband. Shiva is also worshipped as the Adi Guru (first teacher) from whom the yogic tradition originates.
Maha Shivaratri is the main Hindu festival among the Shaiva Hindu diaspora from Nepal and India. In Indo-Caribbean communities, thousands of Hindus spend the auspicious night in over four hundred temples across the country, offering special jhalls (an offering of milk and curd, flowers, sugarcane and sweets) to Lord Shiva. In Mauritius, Hindus go on pilgrimage to Ganga Talao, a crater-lake.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shivaratri.|
Mahasivaratri is observed at night, usually in lighted temples or specially prepared prabha (above).
It is a month of February, the season of spring and happiness. We Indians observe a lot of Hindu festivals in these moths like Makar Sankranti, Basant Panchami, Holi etc. Maha Shivaratri is also such important and big Hindu festival which falls between February and March. In 2018, we have Maha Shivaratri on Tuesday, 13 February. During this time students get homework to write an essay on Shivaratri. Here, we have given sample essay on the same topic. Hope that helps you with your homework.
Essay on Importance of Maha Shivratri
India is country of festivals, colors, traditions. We Indians celebrate different festivals with great enthusiasm. Our festivals are a great mix of traditions, belief, and meaning, each festival has its story and importance. Maha Shivaratri (Shivratri) is a big Hindu festival observed by remembering Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati. Shivaratri is a symbol of triumph over darkness and ignorance. Devotees observe fast, meditate, pray to Lord Shiva on the day. Maha Shivratri also called “The Night of Shiva” falls, it on the moonless 14th night of new moon in Hindu month of Phalguna and according to the Gregorian calendar it falls between the month of February and March. 14th Day of every lunar month i.e. the day before new moon is known as Shivratri. Almost every month Shivaratri occurs but Mhashivarari is the most important of all.
Maha Shivratri is observed across India, in Kashmir festival is called as Haerath or Herath. It is a national holiday in Nepal and celebrated with great enthusiasm. People visit Shiva temples all over the country, but Pashupatinath temple sees a plethora of devotees. Pashupatinath is an incarnation of Hindu God Shiva, he is unofficially regarded as the national deity of Nepal. It is situated on banks of Kathmandu river in the eastern part of Kathmandu. A lot of Indian devotees also visit this temple on Maha Shivaratri.
Significance/Importance of Maha Shivaratri
There are a lot of legends about Shivaratri festivals. Some believe that on Maha Shivaratri Lord Shiva performed Tandava Nritya (heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction). According to another legend, it is the night Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati got married. Other legends say this is the day when Lord Shiva became Mount Kailash. Lord Shiva performed divine meditation for thousands of years and became mountain like still, that day is called Maha Shivratri.
Unlike other Hindu festivals, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. it encourages us for meditation, fast, self-study, and social harmony.
People wake up early in the morning, take bath, wear new clothes. Then they visit Lord Shiva temples and worship Shiva Linga with milk, curd, honey, leaves on Bela. They chant sacred “Om Namah Shivaya” mantra. Some people meditate or perform yoga. Some read Linga Purana, Shiva Purana. People also observe Jaagaran (night long vigil) where they pray, sing bhajans to remember Lord Shiva.
Note: There is a great article on this topic which beautifully explains how Lord Shiva is related to darkness, emptiness in the universe and what are our misconceptions about it. You can read the article here.
Importance/Significance of Mahashivarati Fast / Vrat
Devotees observe a strict fast, many go on fruit or milk diet but some devoted people do not consume food in any form, some even don’t consume a drop of a water. It is believed that sincere prayers and fasting on the auspicious day of Maha Shivaratri will wash off their sins and will liberate them from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered auspicious especially for married women who pray for well being of their husband. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva.
Maha Shivaratri Celebration in India
It is celebrated across India. People arrange fairs nearby Shiva temple which offers people opportunity to cut themselves from worries and spend light-hearted time with family. People also travel to different famous Lord Shiva temples or holy places on eve of Maha Shivaratri. Two of Jyotirlinga temple of are very famous. Thousands of people flocks to Varanasi and Somnath temple.
Isha Foundation observes a massive festival in Shivaratri, thousands of people from India and abroad visit the place to participate in all night festival. A 112-foot statue of Adiyogi Shiva is built in Isha Yoga Centre.
There are other famous temples which see thousands of devotees, those are Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Damodar Kunda, Junagadh in Gujarat. This festival is also widely observed in Andra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.
Tips for Essay Writing
- There are different styles of essay writing e.g. explanatory, expository, story etc. Choose a type of essay first then start writing, it helps a lot.
- If you don’t know how to structure your essay, use the simplest and most widespread formula. It is called 5 paragraph essay. Where the first paragraph is introduction where you introduce the festival, characters etc. In next 3 paragraphs, you put your points, facts, opinions depends on which types of essay you chose. In the last paragraph, you should conclude the essay. Do not introduce new characters or new concepts, this section of the essay is for wrap up.
- Connect 2 paragraphs with connecting words like moreover, however, afterward, on another hand, On contrary etc.
- Note: Here we have tried to give you information which can be used to make a great essay or speech. You should not just copy paste, take an overall idea and write your own essay or speech.
Note: We would like to invite volunteers who can help us to translate this essay in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telegu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bangla and other Indian languages.
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