Maha Shivratri, it is one of the major festival and celebrated all over the India.
An auspicious festival of Maha Shivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalgun corresponds to the month of February – March in English Calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night. On this day, the planetary positions in the Northern hemisphere act as potent catalysts to help a person raise his or her spiritual energy more easily.
RITUALS OF SHIVRATRI
Maha Shivratri means “The Big Night of Lord Shiva”
People observe fast during the day and in the night they worship Lord Shiva, recite hymns, prayers and meditate, and in the morning they open their fast.
Shivalingam is given a special bath with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste and rose water. Puja, meditation and chanting of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ accompany the ritual bath. Following the bath, vermilion paste is applied on the Linga. Leaves of bale/wood apple tree are used for Shiva Puja. Ber or jujube fruit and Beetle leaves are a special offering to the God on this day.
“Om Namah Shivaya” is the chant that is repeated by the devotees several times during the day. Chanting the name of the Lord (Naam jap) for a long period of time purifies the mind and heart. It also destroys the past negative karmas or sins. Then love for the Lord develops in a pure heart.
Shiva means the All-knowing, All-powerful, All-pervading universal consciousness. The Almighty (Satguru Bhagwan) alone destroys all evil forces of lust, anger, greed, attachment and ego which enslave us.
Ratri means night/darkness. It symbolizes ignorance, i.e. I am separate from God, the ego.
Upavas means to be with God. And thereby fast or abstain from indulging in vices (vishaya bhoga). That which you cannot offer the Lord, do not eat, that dress which you cannot offer the Lord, do not wear.
Jagaran means to be always alert, awake, living in the moment. Not mixing with the waste or negative thoughts. The Master says to do Naam Jap (chanting God’s name lovingly) as much as you can which protects us from wasteful thinking.
WHY CELEBRATE MAHA SHIVRATRI? WHAT IS ITS SIGNIFICANCE?
1. The absolute formless God, Sadashiv appeared in the form of “Lingodbhav Moorti” exactly at midnight on Maha Shivratri. That is why all Shiva devotees keep vigil during the night of Shivratri and do “Shivlingam abhishekham” at midnight.
2. Lord Shiva married His consort Parvati on Shivratri. From ‘Nirgun Brahman’ he became ‘Sagun Brahman’ due to the ‘Maya’ power of Parvati, for the purpose of elevation of His devotees. This signifies that God nirakar (formless) becomes Sakaar (form) whom we call SATGURU BHAGWAN, for the upliftment of the devotees.
3. Samudra Manthan Story: On Shivratri, Lord Shiva became ‘Neelkantham’ or the blue-throated by swallowing the deadly poison that came up during ‘the churning of Kshir Sagar’ or Samudra Manthan. The demons and deities joined hands to churn out Amrit (nectar of immortality) from the depths of the ocean. Among many things that came out, a pot of poison came out of the ocean.
Similarly, for a spiritual aspirant whose aim is self realization, the Master under His divine guidance asks him to do saadhna/spiritual practice (Naam jap) during which he is able to see his shortcomings and the negative aspect of mind (desires, anger, greed, attachment, ego, jealousy).
This poison was so potent that it had the power to destroy the whole universe. The poison could not be discarded and neither the deities nor the demons were ready to drink it. At the request of the Gods, Lord Shiva took the poison. The poison was so deadly that even a drop in His stomach, which represents the universe, would have annihilated the entire world. Hence, He held it in His neck, which turned blue due to the effect of poison. By drinking the poison, Shiva sacrificed himself for the safety of his family and humanity.
Similarly, whenever the aspirant shares the negative aspects of mind with the Divine Spiritual Master, the Master out of compassion listens calmly and with unconditional love but does not take it in. He further guides the disciple to move forward on the path of self realization.
IT IS THE IMMENSE GRACE OF SATGURU BHAGWAN WHO TELLS US THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF OUR RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS, WHICH NURTURES LOVE AND DEVOTION WITHIN US AND CONNECT US TO THE LORD.
On this day the stars and planetary positions are in such a way that it helps a person to raise his Spiritual energy. Therefore,
Satguru asks each and every disciple to focus more on Name Chanting (Naam Jap) as this will lead to his Spiritual Upliftment.