The day for convergence of Shiva and Shakti is here and devotees of Lord Shiva are all set to celebrate the Mahashivratri on Friday (Feb 24).
Here are 10 interesting things you should know about Mahashivratri:
1. Mahashivratri falls on the moonless (Krishna Paksha) 14th night (Chaturdashi) of Hindu month Phalguna.
2. It is the day when, according to our religious scriptures, Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati.
The union of Shiv and Shakti is important as without Parvati, Shiv is considered as “Nirgun Brahman” and only when mated with the illusive power of Maya or Parvati, he is seen as “Sagun Brahman”.
3. Mahashivratri finds its mention in ancient religious texts like Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana.
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4. The festival is celebrated with much fanfare at almost all Shiva temples, especially those housing Jyotirlingams.
5. Special events and fairs are organized at the site of major Jyotirlinga Shiva temples, including at Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Kashi Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi and Somnath Temple in Gujarat.
6. In Kashmir, the festival is called Har-ratri and is celebrated by Shiva devotees in the region.
7. Nepal also observes Mahashivratri with reverence. Thousands of devotees visit the Pashupatinath temple and the Nepalese army parade across the capital city of Kathmandu to pay tribute to Lord Shiva.
8. It is a tradition to keep awake all night on Mahashivratri and celebrate the night with devotional songs and dances. It is a symbolic gesture of awakening ourselves to who we really are in front of Shiva, the destroyer of ego.
9. On Mahashivratri, both men and women keep daylong fast and break it after pouring Ganga water mixed with milk, yoghurt, honey and ghee over a Shivling (stone representation of Shiva) amid chanting of “Om Namaha Shivaya” and offering their prayers to the God. This Rudraabhishek Puja is said to wash the devotees off their sins and fill their lives with happiness and peace.
10. On this day, it is popularly said that if a married woman fasts and worships Shiva, her husband will have good health, while if an unmarried woman does the puja, she will get a husband as good as Shiva.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.