Maha Shivratri - Tell Your Child The Tale Of Maha Shivratri
Created by Urvashi Shah Updated on Feb 13, 2018
As I was checking the calendar, I realised that the festival of Maha Shivratri is nearby. This festival itself brings a lot of things in your mind such as doing the preparations for the same or organizing a jaagran with your relatives and friends. On this auspicious occasion, why not teach your child about the significance of this festival? Impart some religious knowledge to your child starting with this festival which falls in the beginning of the year. Teach your child the history and customs following this festival.
The History Behind Maha Shivratri-There are various legends related to this festival of Maha Shivratri where this night marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many believe that on this auspicious night, the Lord performed the dance referred as ‘Tandava’, the dance of creation, preservation and destruction.
Another legend says that on this night the Lord turned himself in to a lingam which is a sacred symbol representing the God. Some also believe that on Shivratri, Lord Shiva became ‘Neelkantha’ or the blue-throated by swallowing the deadly poison that came up during the churning of “Kshir Sagar” or the milky ocean. The poison was so deadly that even a drop in His stomach, which represents the universe, would have destroyed the entire world. Hence, He held it in His neck, which turned blue due to the effect of poison. Shivratri is therefore also a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting us from annihilation.
Customs of Maha Shivratri-
- Maha Shivratri is celebrated all over the country which means, ‘The great night of Shiva’. The auspicious festival is observed at sundown on the 13th night during the month of Maagha as per the Hindu calendar and ends at sundown the following day. Since the date of the festival is calculated on the Hindu lunar calendar it always falls on a moonless night.
- This festival has a special significance for women which goes as per the tradition where Parvati, Shiva’s wife performed a ritual. It is believed that on this night Shiva goes in to a meditative state for a period of three hours and is vulnerable at that time. Parvati offers prayers for his protection since the Lord cannot defend himself.
- In a similar way, married women fast for their husband’s safety while unmarried women fast in order to seek a husband who has the qualities of Lord Shiva.
- This festival begins after sunset where devotees organize jaagran and chant prayers and sing religious songs of the Lord. Priests offer a puja in a three hour cycle where they ritualistically bathe a lingam, a statuette that symbolises the deity. The ritual of bathing a representation of a God is referred as ‘Abhishek’.
- Devotees believe that if they utter Shiva’s name on this auspicious night, all their sins are cleansed.
- n the morning men and women participate in a ritualistic bathe of the lingam, where they smear vermillion paste on the lingam to purify it and offer a variety of fruits, incense, betel leaves and even milk to caste away their sins.
This festival is not only celebrated in India but also in Nepal and in some parts of the West Indies. Isn’t this an interesting trivia? Tell your child these facts and legends that are connected with this auspicious night and make him/her a part of the rituals which help us connect with God and generate positive spirits in us.
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