Mumbai, February 13: For every Hindus across the globe, one of the most sacred day falls today, on the day of auspicious Maha Shivratri. Lord Shiva, is not only a religious figure but also works as a spiritual guide for thousands of devotees inspiring them to destroy all the evils from the way and create a new world. Before the arrival of spring, the ‘great night of Shiva’ is celebrated every year.
Devotees across the country celebrate the great festival in different manners revolving around various myths and legends. All through the day, devotees abstain from eating food and break their fast only the next morning, after the nightlong worship. They flock to Shiva temples to seek blessing from the god. All people wait outside the temples in a queue to worship the god due to heavy rush. At their turn for worship, devotees circumambulate the Shivalinga, three or seven times, and then pour water or milk over it. Many of the devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples for the worship of Lord Shiva while chanting hymns and verses praying offer to the god.
Famous legends regarding the festival:
Across this country, there are various legends associated with the day. One of the most famous legends says to protect the world from malignant poison emerged from the ocean during the Samudra Manthan, Shiva drank it but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. This is being held one of the reasons for celebrating Maha Shivratri.
Another important legend associated to the day is Parvati’s prayer for Shiva. Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivaratri to ward off any evil that may befall her husband. Since then, womenfolk began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Shivaratri day. Unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband.
There is one more legend associated to the festival of Mahashivratri. It is said that when Ganga was descended from the heaven after the request of Bhagirath. He wanted Ganga to come down on Earth and wash way his ancestor’s ashes to help them find the way to heaven. The river Ganga was enormous and uncontrollable, so Lord Brahma asked him to request Shiva as he was the only one who could control her fall. Shiva agreed to it and he held the rapid flow of Ganga by tying it up in his hair. That is why devotees either go to the river Ganga on the occasion of Shivratri or bath Shiva with Ganga’s water in the temples.
Jyotirlingas in India:
There are twelve traditional Jyotirlinga shrines in India. The 12 Jyotirlingas are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Uttrakhand, Bhimashankar at Pune in Maharashtra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Tryambakeshwar at Nashik in Maharashtra, Vaijyanath Temple in Deoghar District of Jharkhand, Aundha Nagnath at Aundha in Hingoli District in Maharashtra, Rameshwar at Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu and Grushneshwar at Ellora near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra.