The loud, joyous noise outside my window – yes that is a festival. Beautifully unknown to me but for dedicated Hindu’s an auspicious and important festival celebrated every year in admiration to Lord Shiva. The day, devotees believe Lord Shiva, married Parvati, the mother goddess.
Maha Shivratri was celebrated a couple of weeks ago. Maha Shivratri’ is the night of the worship to the Hindu God of destruction: ‘Shiva’. Shiva temples all over are crowded with devotees, young and old, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga worship and in the hope for favours from the three-eyed God.
The religious hymn ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is chanted throughout the Maha Shivratri and holy mantras also recite this through the night. Devotees and eminent Pandits also perform Hawan, Path and Yagna.
A must in this festival, the purification rituals at Maha Shivratri include bathing the Shiv Lings with water, milk, curd, ghee, coconut water and honey. The worship of Lord Shiva consists of offering flowers, leaves of the stone apple tree, fruits and other gifts on the Linga.
Dhatura fruit and flower are also offered to Lord Shiva and even though they are poisonous, they are believed to be a favorite of Lord Shiva.
On the day of Maha Shivratri, at midnight, devotees perform the Rudra Abhishekham at midnight to worship the formless Sadashiv. As per Puja rituals, Abhishek of Shiva Linga are performed with milk, rose water, sandalwood paste, yogurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water. After the Abhishek rituals, temple bells are rung and the devotees break their fast by taking only religious food that is prasad while chanting the name of Lord Shiva. Devotees with great fervor mark the celebration with song and dance.
It is believed that anyone who worships Shiva on the day of Maha Shivratri is freed from all bondages and sins and moves on towards the path of salvation and is blessed with health, wealth and success.