I intend to write a note on every important festival that is celebrated through the year by Hindus and the various cultural and gastronomic signifacance of the same. Last year when I started the blog, I was thinking of doing something along these lines but a conversation with my MIL helped me crystalize the whole idea.
Mahashivaratri, literally means “Shiva’s grand night”, is an important festival for Saivites. The day is usually spent in meditation and prayers, while many stay awake the whole night in reverence to Lord Shiva. Abhisekam is performed to the Shivalingam with milk, honey and water, and special offerings are made to the Lord in Bilva leaves, various fruits and the linga is adorned with flowers. Devotees usually recite Lingashtagam, Shiva Panchakshara stotram set in praise of Lord Shiva.
It is believed that this was the night when Shiva had to stay awake after drinking the haala-hala poison, that came out during the churning of the ocean of milk . The story goes that the devas and asuras started churning the ocean of milk in search of Amritam, the nectar of life, but inadvertently churned the poison out first. When the entire universe was in danger of destruction, Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat, to save the universe from the impending disaster. All his devotees remained awake and worshipped Him the whole night and helped Him stay awake. This is supposed to be the origin of Mahashivaratri. It is also believed to be the night when Shiva performed the Ananda Tandava – the dance of creation, in the form of Nataraja, the Lord of dance.
Om Thathpurushaya Vidhmahe Chakrathundaya
Dheemahe Thanno Nandi Prachodayath
Om Tat Purushaya Vidmahe Mahadevaya
Dhimahi Tanno Rudrah Prachodayat
Know more about the significance of Shivaratri here.
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