Maha Shivratri is one of most celebrated Hindu Festivals. On this day Lord Shiva is worshipped by devotees in various temples and at their homes. Maha Shivratri in Varanasi is a much awaited festival as it is abode of Shiva according to Hindu Mythology and more religiously important than any other place of Hindu Pilgrimage. Comes Shivratri and devotees begin to throng in Varanasi City to take a glimpse of their most adored deity Lord Shiva in various temples of Varanasi. River Ganges seems filled with devotees as all enter into its water to take a holy dip.
Time for celebrating the Maha Shivratri in Varanasi
The Maha Shivratri in Varanasi generally falls in the 13th or 14th day of the Hindu month of Phalgun (February – March).
History of the Maha Shivratri in Varanasi :
As the legend goes on, once, a war was fought between demons and deities over churning of KsheerSagar to get Amrita. Both demons and devotees churned the ocean to get Amrita and which would make them immortal. It is said that 14 items came up of churning. The first one was Visha (Poison). Both demons and deities got afraid. No one could drink the poison and whole world was going to be destroyed with its effect. Then deities convinced Lord Shiva to take the poison. Shiva consumed the poison to save the earth. In doing so, his throat turned blue with effect of poison. From the time Lord Shiva is called Neelkantha. It is believed that Lord Shiva is the simplest god who could easily be pleased with little devotion of his Bhakta.
Description of the Maha Shivratri in Varanasi :
Nag Nathaiyya would be celebrated in the month of October November in 2016. Due dates would be published shortly by the administration.
Varanasi has one of 12 Jyotirlingas that is considered one of Holiest among all Jyotirlingas. Varanasi is famous from ancient times for worship and association with Lord Shiva. It is said that Kashi or Varanasi is situated on point of Trident of Lord Shiva. Hence, it is considered different from all places of earth, probably highest.
On Maha Shivratri people from across the country come to visit temples of Varanasi. From early morning, queues of devotees standing with their Puja kiThali are seen in front of temples. Vedic Hymns are chanted in temples. Most visited temple on this day is Kashi Vishvanath temple.
Whole atmosphere is turned into devotion. People keep fast, take a dip into Ganges and offer worship to their Bhole Nath.
Everywhere on street shops you could find materials offered to Lord Shiva. The bael leaves, Dhatura, essence, Milk laced with nuts and fruits, bhang and all that is considered to be loved by Lord Shiva is offered in temples.
Materials to be offered on Maha Shivratri to Lord Shiva :
According to Shiva Purana that is one of 18 Puranas of Hinduism, 6 items must be used for worship of Lord Shiva.
- Bael Leaves : That is a symbol of purification. Also, scientifically Bael leaves act as anti-biotec and used to cure fever.
- Vermilion paste (Sindoor) : is a symbol of virtue and is applied on Shiva Lingam to keep chastity of Lord Shiva.
- Food items : Food items such as rice and fruits are offered to the Lord to ensure a long life and fulfillment of desires.
- Incense (Dhoop) : Incense sticks are kindled before the deity to gain fame as incense spreads fast and sooth mind.
- Lamp (Diya) : The lighting of the lamp is believed to be conducive to the attainment of knowledge.
- Betel leaves (Paanpatta) : This signifies satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
Rudrabhishek on Mahshivratri :
Rudrabhishek literally translates to applying of ritualistic materials on Rudra.
Rudrabhishek includes applying of a mixture, considered pious on Shiva Lingam. It includes 6 materials mentioned in Shiva Purana and whatever a devotee could afford. Rudrabhishek is done by bathing Shiva Lingam with cow milk and after that applying honey, juices and paste of fruits and other nuts to satiate Lord Shiva’s effect of poison.
Significance of Maha Shivratri :
Besides ritual and religious significance of Maha Shivratri it is unique festival for girls and women. On this day, girls keep fast and worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to get a groom like Lord Shiva. It is believed that on this day Parvati kept fast and was married to Lord Shiva. Shiva is considered a deity who is simplest and far from all the things that are found in other deities. Lord Shiva is symbol of a pious and spiritual life. Women and girls worship on this day to get or make their existing husband of their own choice. In another way to make a nice human being who has all the divine qualities that one thinks should be in a human being.
On this day keeping fast is believed to take one to heavens and get rid of all the sins. Moksha is also a much adored concept in Hindu Religion. Hindu Religion focuses more on attainment of Moksha or salvation as it considers attainment of materialistic pleasure as a way to trap of sins. Maha Shivratri in this way is the most significant festival of Hindus that gives inspiration of spiritualism, divinity and in conclusion humanity.