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Date: 24th Feb, 2017

The festival of Mahashivratri is marked with colorful customs, religious zest and immense devotion. The Hindus across the length and breadth of the country rejoice this propitious festivity with great gusto. Mahashivratri falls in the Hindu month of Phalgun (February - March as per English calendar). On this day, devotees of Lord Shiva keep a fast and worship Shiva Lingam, to appease the great Lord. Lord Shiva also known as ‘Mahadeva’ as per Hindu Vedas and scriptures.

Devotees get the blessings of Lord Shiva by keeping fast and practicing meditation. Along with married women, unmarried women also observe the fast as it believed that worshipping of Mahadeva would help unmarried women get their desired husband.

Legends and Stories of Mahashivratri

Marriage of Shiva and Shakti
The most popular folklore is connected to the marriage of Shakti and Shiva. It is said that the day Lord Shiva tied knot to the Goddess Parvati is commemorated as Mahashivratri or the night of Lord Shiva. As per another version of this mythological saga, Goddess Parvati performed prayers and penance on the moonless light of Shivratri for the longevity of her divine consort. Believing in this, every year on Shivratri, married women observe fast for their husband’s well being.

Samundra Manthan
This one is another popular legend associated with this Hindu festival. As per this, when demons and Gods were churning the sea to get the nectar of immortality, a pot of poison came out. Lord Shiva drank the poison on the request of Gods and the poison was death-defying and changed Lord Shiva’s neck to blue. Due to this, Mahadeva is also known as ‘Neelkanth’. To get the recover, all the Gods suggested him to wake up whole night and various Gods performed sung holy hymns and performed dances. Pleased with the dedication of all the divine beings, Lord Shiva blessed them all and after this, the day came to be known as ‘Shivratri’.

Significance of Mahashivratri
It is mentioned in Hindu scriptures; Lord Shiva affirmed that the customs performed by his worshippers in the phalgun month and on the 14th day of the dark fortnight would please him the most. Thus, the day is celebrated as Mahashivratri and pujas are conducted on this day to please Lord Shiva.

The festival of Mahashivratri holds great importance for married women. This is mainly done to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva’s divine consort Ma Gauri (Goddess Parvati). It is believed that Goddess Parvati showers marital bliss on married women and blesses unmarried women as well.

Celebrations and Rituals
On Mahashivratri, devotees of Lord Shiva go to the temples and offer prayers to the divine being. They keep fast, gave Lord Shiva figurine a ceremonious bath with rose water, honey, milk, and yoghurt. The priest does Tilak ceremony, devotees chant the names of Lord Shiva and incense sticks, fruits, flowers, yoghurt and honey are offered to the deity.