Night Of Shiva – Siva Celebration – Mahashivaratri 2010 – Maha Shivarathri 2010 – February 12th 2010
Shivaratri Will Be Celebrated On Friday, February 12th 2010
Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February – March in English Calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on the moonless night. (Mahashivratri Reference)
Maha Shivratri (“Night of Shiva” or “Great Night of Shiva”) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night / 14th day in the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Maagha (as per Shalivahana) or Phalguna (as per Vikrama) in the Hindu Calendar (that is, the night before and day of the new moon). The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil. In North India and Nepal, many people consume bhang (cannabis sativa), which is believed to be Lord Shiva’s favourite drink
Tripundra refers to the three horizontal stripes of holy ash (vibuthi) applied to the forehead by worshippers of Lord Shiva. These stripes symbolise spiritual knowledge, purity and penance (spiritual practice of Yoga) and also represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva.
On Shivaratri, only cold water and bael leaves are offered to the Lingam. Other traditional offerings, such as bathing it in milk and Panchamruta (a mixture of milk, curds, ghee, sugar and honey) or annointing it with vermilion (kumkum) or white consecrated rice (Akshata) are not done on this day, when Lord Shiva is worshipped as the deity of dissolution.
Sathya Sai Baba Speaks About Shivaratri
Endeavour. That is the main thing, that is the inescapable task for all mortals. Even those who deny God today will have one day to tread the pilgrim road, melting their hearts out in tears of travail. If you make the slightest effort to progress along the path of liberation, the Lord will help you a hundred-fold. Shivaraathri conveys that hope to you. The moon, which is the presiding deity of the mind of man, wanes, until on the fourteenth day after full moon, it is just a tiny curve of glimmering glow. The mind too must be starved into that condition, so that man becomes free. Spend all the days with Shiva and the conquest of the mind is easy. Spend the fourteenth day of the waning moon with Shiva, reaching the climax of spiritual effort on that final day, and success is yours. That is why all the Chaturdasis (fourteenth days of the dark half of every month) are called Shivaraathris (Shiva’s nights); that is why the Chaturdasi of the Magha month is called Mahaa Shivaraathri.
This is a day of special dedication to Shiva, and since so many of you here and elsewhere pray to Shiva, the Lingha is emanating from Me for you all to receive the grace and the bliss of the great moment of Linghodhbhava (emergence of the Linga).
The three eyes of Shiva are the eyes which reveal the past, present and the future. Shiva alone has all three. The elephant skin which forms His cloak is just a symbol for the elemental bestial primitive traits which His grace destroys; he makes them powerless and harmless; in fact, he tears them to pieces, skins them so to say, and makes them ineffective. His four faces symbolise Shaantham, Roudhram, Mangalam, and Uthsaaham (peace, fierceness, auspiciousness, determination). In this way, realise while worshiping the Lingam, the inner sense of the many attributes of Shiva. Meditate thus on Shiva this day, so that you may get rid of the last lingering vestiges of delusion.
Do not tell Me that you do not care for that bliss, that you are satisfied with the delusion and are not willing to undergo the rigours of sleeplessness. Your basic nature, believe Me, abhors this dull, dreary routine of eating, drinking, and sleeping. It seeks something which it knows it has lost – Shaanthi (inward contentment). It seeks liberation from bondage to the trivial and the temporary. Every one craves for it in his heart of hearts. And it is available only in one shop – Contemplation of the highest self, the basis of all this appearance.
When you realise Shivoham (I am Shiva), then, you have all the happiness, all the auspiciousness that there is. Shiva is not to be sought on the peak of a distant range of mountains, or in some other special place. You must have heard that sin and merit are inherent in the acts that men do; so too, Shiva is inherent in every thought, word and deed, for He is the energy, the power, the intelligence that is behind each of them.
Shiva is worshipped with the three-leaved Bilva, for, He is immanent in the three worlds, in the three phases of time, in the three attributes of nature. He removes the three types of grief; He has no basis outside Him; He is the source of bliss; He is the embodiment of the sweetness and efficacy of nectar. Since every being is Shiva-Swaruupa (of the nature of Shiva) – for without Shiva, it is mere ‘Shava’ (corpse) – man has to live up to that divine status.
Love brings people together; hatred drives them apart. You cannot be happy, when you cause misery to others. God showers grace when the nine steps of Bhakthi (devotion) are observed. Masters or rulers can be won over by the same means – sacrifice, love, devotion, dedication in the path of duty. When success is achieved by means of unrest and violence, it has to be preserved and prolonged only by further unrest and violence.
Therefore, let this be the lesson of Shivaraathri for you: Shiva is in all beings and all things. He is the inner motivator. Be aware of this always; do not cause pain to any one, do not harm or injure anyone, or hurt his self-respect. Love all alike, cultivate tolerance and spread brotherliness.
Various Spellings For The Night Of Lord Shiva:
- Maha Shivaratri
- Maha Shivarathri
- Shiva Ratri
- Siva Ratri
- Shiva Rathri
- Siva Rathri
- Mahaa ShivaRaathri
- Mahaa SivaRaathri
- Mahaa ShivaRaatri
- Mahaa SivaRaatri
- Maha Shivratari
- Mahaa Shivratari
- Maha Sivratari
- Mahaa Sivratari
- Herath (In Kashmir)
- Hara Rathri
- Hara Ratri
The Story Of King Chitrabhanu
In the Shanti Parva of the Mahabharata, Bhishma, whilst resting on the bed of arrows and discoursing on Dharma, refers to the observance of Maha Shivaratri by King Chitrabhanu. The story goes as follows – Once upon a time King Chitrabhanu of the Ikshvaku dynasty, who ruled over the whole of Jambudvipa, was observing a fast with his wife, it being the day of Maha Shivaratri. The sage Ashtavakra came on a visit to the court of the king.
The sage asked the king the purpose of his observing the past. King Chitrabhanu explained that he had the gift of remembering the incidents of his previous birth.
The king said to the sage that in his previous he was a hunter in Varanasi and his name was Suswara. His only livelihood was to kill and sell birds and animals. One day while roaming through forests in search of animals he was overtaken by the darkness of night. Unable to return home, he climbed a tree for shelter. It happened to be a Bael tree. He had shot a deer that day but had no time to take it home. So he bundled it up and tied it to a branch on the tree. As hunger and thirst tormented him, he was kept awake throughout the night. He shed profuse tears when he thought of his poor wife and children who were starving and anxiously waiting for his return. To pass away the time that night he engaged himself in plucking the Bael leaves and dropping them down onto the ground.
The next day he returned home and sold the deer and then bought some food for himself and his family. The moment he was about to break his fast a stranger came to him, begging for food. He served the food first to stranger and then had his own.
At the time of his death, he saw two messengers of Lord Shiva. They were sent down to conduct his soul to the abode of Lord Shiva. He learnt then for the first time of the great merit he had earned by the unconscious worship of Lord Shiva during the night of Shivaratri. The messengers told him that there was a Lingam at the bottom of the tree. The leaves I dropped fell on the Lingam. His tears, which had shed out of pure sorrow for his family, fell onto the Lingam and washed it and he had fasted all day and all night. Thus, he unconsciously worshiped the Lord.
As the conclusion of the tale the King said that he lived in the abode of the Lord and enjoyed divine bliss for long ages and now he has reborn as Chitrabhanu.
(Maha Shivaratri – King Chitrabhanu)
The Festivity Of MahaShivaratri
People observe a strict fast on this day. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water and they keep vigil all night. The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, curd, honey, rose water, etc., whilst the chanting of the Mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” continues. Offerings of Bael leaves are made to the Lingam as Bael leaves are considered very sacred and it is said that Goddess Lakshmi resides in them.
Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the “Shiva Mahimna Stotra” of Pushpadanta or Ravana’s “Shiva Tandava Stotra” are sung with great fervour and devotion. People repeat the ‘Panchakshara’ Mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya”. He, who utters the names of Shiva during Shivratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims dock to the places where there are Shiva temples.
(MahaShivaratri – The Festivity)
About Lord Shiva
Shiva – the word meaning auspicious – is one of the Hindu Trinity, comprising of Lord Brahma, the creator, Lord Vishnu, the preserver and Lord Shiva or Mahesh, the Destroyer and Re-Producer of life. Shiva is known by many names like “Shankar”, “Mahesh”, “Bholenath”, “Neelakanth”, “Shambhu Kailasheshwar”, “Umanath”, “Nataraj” and others.
For few people, Shiva is “Paramatman”, “Brahman”, the Absolute, but many more prefer to see Shiva as a personal God given to compassion for his worshippers, and the dispenser of both spiritual and material blessings. Related to the Absolute concept is Shiva as “Yoganath” meaning the Lord of Yoga, wherein he becomes teacher, path and goal. As such he is the “Adi Guru” or the Highest Guru of ‘Sannyasins’ who have renounced the world to attain the Absolute.
Siva is the most sought-after deity amongst the Hindus and they pray to him as the god of immense large-heartedness who they believe grants all their wishes. Around him are weaved many interesting stories that reveal His magnanimous heart. Not only this, but these stories and legends also enrich the Indian culture and art.
Time is invisible and formless. Therefore Mahakal Shiva, as per the Vedas, manifested himself as “LINGAM” to make mankind aware of the presence of Eternal Time. That day when Shiva manifested himself in the form of “Lingum” was the fourth day of the dark night in the month of ‘Magha’ i.e. February-March. Maha Shivratri continues to be celebrated forever and ever.
(Maha Shivarathri – About The Lord)
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