Maha Shivratri Festival

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Oct 302009

Maha Shivratri Maha Shivratri Festival in Delhi

All over India, Maha Shivratri occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. On a moonless night in February every year, occurs the night of Shiva, the destroyer. This is the night when He is said to have performed the Tandava or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

The festival of Maha Shivratri falls on the 13th (or 14th) day of the month of Phalguna (February-March) of the Indian calendar. The weather remains pleasant throughout India during this time of the year. Maha Shivratri is celebrated in Shiva temples all over Delhi on the night when the god is said to have performed the Tandava, or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

Devotees of Shiva fast during the day and maintain a long vigil during the night. In temples all across the country, bells ring, sacred texts are chanted and traditional offerings of leaves and milk are made to the Shiv lingam, the phallic symbol of the god. There is a legend behind Shiva’s phallic form. It is believed that once Brahma and Vishnu, the two pillars of the holy Trinity were having an argument as to who was supreme. Brahma declared himself to be the Creator of all and thus more revered. Vishnu claimed that since he was the Creator and the Destroyer, he commanded more respect.

The word Shivratri literally translates into “the night of Shiva.” This is because the ceremonies take place chiefly at night. A daylong fast, a nightlong vigil and the reverberating rhythm of sacred chants mark the day. This is a festival observed in honor of Lord Shiva. It is said that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati on this auspicious day. 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. Bael leaves are very sacred, for it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi resides in them.

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