Mahashivratri celebrated in Splendour
By dhanushag | Published: February 12 2010
Shivratri is being celebrated with religious fervour and pomp all across the country today.
Shivratri Festival or the ‘The Night of Lord Shiva’ is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of the Hindu Trinity. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Celebrating the festival of Shivaratri devotees observe day and night fast and perform ritual worship of the Shivalingam to appease Lord Shiva.
Amongst all the popular legends as to why people celebrated Shivaratri, the most popular one is the one that marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and his wife Parvati. Some believe that it was on this auspicious night that Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva.
Various traditions and customs in relation to the festival are followed by worshippers across the country. Ancient scriptures and legends say that Lord Shiva was the toughest Lord to please. Kings and saints of the middle Ages had to meditate for several years to gain his blessings. Devotees observed strict fast in the honour of Shiva, many go on a diet of fruits and milk and there are some who do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees believe that the sincere worship of Lord Shiva on Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. While married women pray for the well being of their husband’s, it is believed that unmarried women can pray for a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband.
To mark Shivratri, worshippers wake up at around 4 am and take a ritual bath. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to grace the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc. Usually, the worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. In temples, every three hours priests perform the ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water while chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where a large numbers of devotees spend the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotees break their fast by partaking prasad offered to the deity.
There are thousands of temples and shrines devoted to Lord Shiva in India. In Karnataka, the most popular ones include, the cave temples of Badami; Navalinga Temples at Kuknur near Hospet; Shiva temple at Gokarna; Shiva Temple at Paparajanhalli near Kolar; Siddhadeva Temple at Haveri near Dharwar; and the Murugeshpalya Shiva Temple where there is a Shiva statue aver 65 feet tall. The Murugeshpalya temple is located about 10 kilometres away from Bangalore city. The temple also has a huge lord Ganesh statue and Navagraha temple inside. This temple is open for 24 hours. Inside and underneath the Shiva statue there is a path where Models of Shiva lings different forms, such as linga made of ice is maintained. The landmarks that are in this place are the Kempfort shopping complex which was replaced by Total Mall in the year 2008