Maha ShivRatri~Story,legends and My Experience

Shiva Parvati-At kailashagiri in Visakhapatnam

Brahma Muraari Suraarchita Lingam
Nirmala Bhashita Shobhita Lingam
Janmaja Dukha Vinaashaka Lingam
Tat Pranamaami Sadaa Shiva Lingam

Night usually represents evil, then why is Shivaratri celebrated during night? The night after Mahashivratri is ‘amavasya’ (no moon night). A day when the world will be completely dark. Symbolically, nothing but only ignorance and injustice will prevail. This ‘amavasya’ also represents ‘Kaliyuga.’ Lord Shiva appeared just before the beginning of Kaliyuga to rid the world of ignorance and evil. This was during the night before ‘amavasya.’
Therefore special worship is performed before ‘amavasya’ to please Lord Shiva who is the remover of darkness, evil and ignorance.

Almost all the myths and legends associated with Shivaratri happened during the night and this is another reason.
There are numerous myths regarding the origin of Shivaratri. Most of the stories of Shivratri can be traced to the Puranas.

Myth of Shivratri based on Vishnu and Brahma searching for the origin of the Linga

Lord Vishnu and Brahma wanted to know who was superior and this led to a fight. Lord Shiva intervened and said whoever can find out the origin or end of the Shivalinga is superior.
Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu went down searching(netherworld) and Brahma went up searching(kailash). Both traveled and traveled but never met the beginning or end of the Shiva Linga .
After the futile search, Lord Vishnu and Brahma prayed to Shiva who appeared before them in the form of Jyotirlinga and this day of the appearance of Lord Shiva is celebrated as Shivaratri.

The Story of Shivaratri based on Saagara Manthan

This is a famous legend on Shivaratri and happened during the churning of the Ksheera Sagara by the Devas and Asuras to get ‘Amrit.’ While churning the ocean, highly toxic poison came out and Lord Vishnu asked the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ to approach Lord Shiva.
He agreed immediately to help them and drank the poison. In order that this poison should not affect him, Lord Shiva was not allowed to sleep. So the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ kept praying through bhajans and Ashtotras the whole night. Pleased with their devotion Lord Shiva said ‘whoever worships me on this day will get their wishes fulfilled.’

The Poison affected his Throat and made it Blue hence the Name “Garala Kantha” or Neelakantha”.

The story of Shivratri based on hunter unknowingly dropping Bilva leaves on Lingam

There once lived a tribal hunter who was a Shiva devotee. One day he lost his way while hunting and was trapped in the forest at night. Soon wild animals started to gather around him and he climbed a Bel or Bilva tree. In order to keep himself awake, he started plucking Bilva leaves and dropped them down one by one repeating ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ In the morning, he discovered that he had been dropping the leaves on a Shivaling.
And the word spread that he was saved by Lord Shiva. People started celebrating the day as Shivratri. The story is mentioned in Mahabharata by Bhishma while on the bed of arrows.
The hunter was born as King Chitra bhanu who could remember his previous births. And he discussed the importance of Shivaratri with a sage.
Apart from these myths, it is said that the reunion of Lord Shiva and Parvati happened on the Shivratri day. Another legend states that Lord Shiva performed the Taandava on this day.
On the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri, or Mahashivratri, Hindu devotees around the world observe Shivratri Vrat or Upvaas or fast. The fasting involves refraining from eating any food and not sleeping through out the night. Sivaratri literally means ‘the night of Lord Shiva’ and unlike other festivals associated with Hinduism there is no fun and merrymaking on the day. But the night provides an opportunity to cleanse the ignorance and realize that you are Brahman and open the door to bliss.

The day after Shivratri is Amavasya – the dark night or the no moon night. It symbolizes the evil forces – desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger – which dominate the Kaliyuga. Shiva is believed to have appeared in the form of ‘Lingodabhavamurti’ or Jyotir Linga on the Shivratri night. The Linga is an attempt to give form to the formless Brahmin. Praying to Shiva is to escape from the miseries of Kaliyuga.

The Mahashivratri fasting begins on the morning of Shivratri and ends next day morning or the Amavasya morning.

Since it is a long Upvaas or Vrat, many people consume a special meal known as ‘palhaar.’
•Devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath and wear clean clothes.
•Applying of sacred ash, or vibhuthi, is an important aspect on the day. People also wear a Rudraksha Mala.
•The idols of Ganesh, Shiva and Parvati are cleaned and a lamp is lit.
•Most people then visit a nearby Shiva temple. In most places, Shivratri is largely observed in temples.
•Some people observing fast consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which are made into a curry without onion, garlic or haldi, Vrat Alu Ka Meetha,Sabudane ki Khichdi etc. Another food eaten on the day is pakori or Kutt Singahri ki puri.
•Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
•No meal is eaten after sunset.
•Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasya after doing puja and giving alms to the needy.
•The entire night is spent in a nearby Shiva temple or by chanting Mantras or listening to stories related to Shiva.
•In some places in the south people have a meal only after a Samudra Snaan( a bath in the sea).
•Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include:
•Shiva Panchakshari Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya or chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva.
•People who have a Shivling at home can bathe the Shivling with water intermittently throughout the night.
•All the rituals on the night of Shivratri are meant to cleanse the ignorance and realize the Brahmin manifested in you.

The fasting, rituals and chanting are meant to kill desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger. This will make you a better person and prepare you to face the challenges that life puts you through every day.

I have compiled this information from numerous Hindu Sites and hope it is helpful in understanding Hindu Rituals and passing on this information to the next generation that would otherwise be ignorant of the customs of Shiv ratri.

My experiences of Shiv Ratri have been very varied. I can broadly classify them as before Marriage and After Marriage!!!

My family(pa,ma,brother and I) has always observed Shiv ratri with sobriety and bhakti.

My Husband’s Family has always been observing this day with some signature fasting that I find many North Indian families observing..with half a day of fasting and half a day of GREAT TASTING Recipes.

They are Vrat Alu Ka Meetha,Alu Raita,Alu curry and Sabudane ki Khichdi.

I have found that both forms of Shiv ratri are equally enjoyable and the bhakti is in the mind of the Bhakth. You can think of God While fasting and Praying And you can also Thank God after a Hearty Meal 

Disclaimer-These are strictly my opinions. No intention to hurt anyone!

Sabudana Khichdi-Shiv Ratri Vrat Food

Anyways…Will share one recipe today after this LOOOOONG Post 🙂

Saboodana Khichdi
Ingredients:
2cup: Sago granules
1/2 cup: Groundnut roasted
6: Green chillies chopped coarsely
4 TBSP : Oil
1 tsp-Chilli powder
Mint finely chopped
Coriander finely chopped
Saindha namak-Salt to taste

Method:
1.Wash and drain sago/saboodana. Keep aside for one hour.
2.Grind roasted ground nuts, chillies with some salt. Do not add water and keep the powder aside.
3.Heat oil in a pan.
4.Mix groundnut ,chilly powder and chillies with drained out sago.
5.Add this mixture to the heated pan.
6.Cook it at low fire for half an hour. Keep stirring.
7.Add grated potatoes, Mint leaves.
8.Add coriander leaves and serve hot with curd.

Vrat Alu ka Meetha-Shiv Ratri special

Also showing you the other Visuals that I made this Shiv Ratri!!

Om Namah Shivaya!

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4 thoughts on “Maha ShivRatri~Story,legends and My Experience

  1. Ashok Rajagopalan

    Came here during the course of my research into the churning of the ocean myth. We are in the process of producing a graphic novel: Neelakshi – The Quest for Amrit where the asuras try to regain amrit from the devas.
    Your site is an interesting mix of legend, tradition and recipes. 🙂

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