New Delhi: All of India is celebrating Maha Shivratri on Tuesday and people are celebrating this auspicious day with enthusiasm. It's a festival that is dedicated to Lord Shiva which is also called as the Great Night of Shiva.What is the story behind Maha Shivaratri? Firstly, Maha Shivaratri is seen as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva’s marriage to the Goddess Parvati. Temples are decorated with flowers to mark this and unmarried women and girls pray for their future husbands to be like Lord Shiva, who is widely considered to be the perfect partner. Another legend celebrated today is that during the great mythical churning of the ocean –
known as Samudra Manthan, and conducted by gods and demons so that nectar could be obtained to make them immortal – a pot of poison emerged. This poison was so potent that nobody was prepared to even touch it – it had the potential to burn the whole world. The only one who could get rid of the poison was Lord Shiva, who agreed to consume it. The poison was so deadly, that if any had entered Lord Shiva’s stomach – which represents the universe – the world would have been destroyed. He held it in his throat, which then turned dark blue as the poison took effect, and became known as Neelkanth. Maha Shivaratri is a day where Hindus acknowledge their thanks to Lord Shiva for protecting the world from this poison. Things to do on Shivaratri A day before Shivratri, devotees have only a single meal. After taking bath in the morning devotees take sankalp (pledge) stating that the day will be spent in chanting Shiva names, fasting and meditating.
Since Shivratri puja is done during the night, devotees are advised to take bath in the evening before performing Shiva puja or visiting temple. Devotees observe fast throughout the day and break it the next day between sunrise and before the end of Chaturdashi tithi. It is also believed that breaking the fast after Chaturdashi tithi gets over brings maximum benefit. The puja vidhi begins with the Abhishek which means giving bath to Shiva Linga with Gangajal. Abhishek is also performed with ‘panchamrit’ – a mixture of milk, ghee, honey, yogurt, and Sugar. Followed by Abhishek with water. Jalabhishek is also performed by offering water on the Shivling drop by drop. Decorate Shivling with flowers and offer bael leaves, vibhuti (holy ash), gandha (sandal paste), akshada (rice) and gandha (sandal paste). Offer bhog and fruits to the lord. Light incense sticks and diya and perform Shiv aarti. Chant ‘Om Namashivaya’ or Mrutunjaya mantra at night.