As the winter sets off and the spring rings in, on the 13th night of Phalguna and Maagh, the most powerful Hindu festival MahaShivratri is celebrated in full splendour. Unmarried girls and married women await worshipping lord shiva on this occasion throughout the year.
It is believed that when a lady showers the Shivalinga with milk, ghee, honey, Ganga Jal, etc., she gets a loving husband if unmarried and long life for her spouse if married. It is a ritual to stay awake throughout the night on MahaShivratri, as lord Shiva came to earth on this day in the form of Shivalinga during the night.
Just like this one, there are facts behind every ritual performed on the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri. Let us discover some of them in today’s discussion.
Why Is Neelkantha Flower A Must?
Neelkantha flower symbolizes lord shiva and is a must for worshipping him. The story behind it is, during the time of Samudra Manthana (churning of the ocean of milk), a fatal pot of poison came up while the gods and the demons were churning the river.
Terrified by the destructive situation, the gods pleaded to Shiva for rescuing them and, therefore, the world. Seeing no other way out, lord shiva drank the whole poison himself to save the universe. While he swallowed, his throat turned blue because of the poison.
He successfully saved the world and thereafter came to be known as Neelkanth (blue-throated). The flower looks similar to the appearance he had after the shuddering incident. Hence, it is mandatory to use the Neel Kantha flower on the “Great day of Shiva”.
What Is The Significance Of The Devotion Of Ladies?
Have you ever wondered that where from did this concept of ladies worshipping Lord Shiva for their husband come? In the sorrow of Sati's death, Shiva went into deep meditation. Nobody in this universe could break his meditation when Sati incarnated as Parvati.
After much difficulties, with the help of Kamadeva, on the night of Shivratri, Parvati not only succeeded in breaking Shiva’s meditation but also married him after Shiva recognized her. Hence, ladies worship lord Shiva on this day to get a faithful and loving husband like him.
Though Sati died, Shiva continued living; this is a reason why married women worship him on Shivratri. So that their husbands get longer life than them and they could die peacefully seeing them in good health and enjoy their companionship till the last breath.
Why Do People Keep Vigil The Whole Night?
It is a custom to stay awake the whole night on MahaShivratri. The Adi Guru Sadashiv was believed to be formless by his devotees. But on the night of MahaShivratri, he manifested on earth in the form of “LingodbhavMoorti” during the “Nishith Kaal” (midnight).
From then onwards, his devotees keep a vigil on the MahaShivratri night and chants hymns, bathes him with milk, ghee, etc., and then apply Chandan paste on him. Fruits, vegetarian food dishes are also offered to him, along with flowers to ornament him.
The devotees believe that every year on the night of Maha Shivaratri, Lord Shiva appears on earth to bless his followers and accept their offerings. In order to stay awake, various cultural events are organized in many places as a part of the puja.
Why Bilva Leaves Above All?
The puja of Lord Shiva, on not only MahaShivratri but in general too, is incomplete without Bilva leaves. There is a story behind this that says, one day, a hunter, while searching for prey, came under the eye of a ferocious lion.
Failing to find an alternative, he climbed a Bilva tree and decided to stay there until the lion departs. So that he does not dose off on the tree, he kept plucking bilva leaves and dropped them below. He was unaware of the Shivalinga that lied under the branch he was sitting.
By this, Lord Shiva was very much satisfied with the offering of the hunter. Despite his sins of killing birds, Shiva forgave all his sins. This is the reason Bilva leaves are a must and is believed to drain all sins of human life when prayed with full devotion.
So, these were some of the facts that lie behind the rituals we perform on the day and night of MahaShivratri. We hope from now onwards you will feel more devoted to the traditions as now you know the underlying reasons behind a few of them.