Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Maha Shivaratri


Shiva Rathri which tanslates into " Shiva's Night " is one of the important festivals for Shaivaites among Hindus. It is one of the eight most auspicious vratams( fasts) called Ashta Maha Vratams, meant for Lord Shiva as explained in the ancient scriptures. One of the legends about this festival is that at the end of this universe, when the great deluge happens every soul including Lord Maha Vishnu the protector, and Lord Brahma , the creator surrender at the lotus feet of our Lord Shiva. During that night, the ocean of compassion, Mother Parvathi, consort of Lord Shiva worship the Lord during this night of nothing to start the procreation again. Pleased with the devotion of Mother the Lord starts creation again. As requested by the Mother, the Lord blesses those worship Him on this Shiva Rathri day with granting them with all the wealth during this birth, and liberating them from this cycle of birth and death by giving them Moksha (salvation).

திருக்காளத்தி வாயு லிங்கம்

Another legend associated with Shiva Rathri is, once Maha Vishnu and Brahma quarreled among themselves as " who is superior". Then to solve the dispute Lord Shiva stood as a column of fire (Lingothpavar) and asked them to find the crown or feet of Him, Vishnu took the form of a pig and dug the ground to find the feet of the Lord. Brahma took the form of a swan and flew towards thew sky to find the crown of the Lord, but both cannot find them. Lord Shiva stood as a column of fire on a Thiru Karthikai day, one of the Ashta Maha Virathams mentioned above. Later Vishnu and Brahma realised their mistake of not worshipping Lord Shiva as Lingam and pleaded for pardon. Lord Shiva forgave them and blessed them on this day by manifesting as Lingam and both of them worshipped the Lord during this night.

Every night can be considered as Nithya Shiva Rathri (Daily), Every month Krishna Paksha chathurdhasi ( fourteenth moonday, day before newmoon day) is called Masa Shiva Rathri (monthly). The thirteen days from the second moon day of MAsi month (Feb-Mar) to krishna paksha chadurthasi day (Maha ShivaRathri) is called Paksha Shiva Rathri. (Period). If new moon day falls on the day and night on a monday which is very auspicious to the Lord it is called Yoga Shiva Rathri (lucky), and Maha Shiva Rathri (the great) falls on Krishna Paksha chathurdhasi ( fourteenth moonday ) of MAsi month (Feb-Mar). Of all these Shiva Rathris , Maha Shiva Rathris is considered most auspicious and the vratam is observed by all the devotees during this day and night.

So it is believed that those who observe this vratam in the following manner will be blessed by the Lord with Moksha (salvation). Getting up early in the day, after finishing the morning chores one should meditate upon the Lord and Mother by chanting his five lettered Mantra " Om Namah Shivaya ", and should keep fast (going without food) on the whole day. Starting from evening 6 O' clock they should offer special ablutions (abishekams) to the Lingam during the four parts (jamas) of the night, and do pooja with offering Him with Bilva leaves. Thus they have to worship the Lord during the whole night and the next morning they break their fast after worshipping the Lord.

The story of a hunter is given as the proof of the greatness of this vratam. Once a hunter went for hunt in a forest, unfortunately a tiger chased him, to escape from the tiger the hunter climbed a tree, the tiger sat at the feet waiting for the hunter to get down. As the hunter was trapped he went without food the whole day, dusk came still the tiger didn't move to keep himself awake the hunter started plucking the leaves of the tree and started throwing them downwards, also he emptied portions of water he was carrying in his water bottle intermittently. at the dawn , bored the tiger left the place and the hunter came down and saw the Lingam at the base of the tree and worshipped the Lord for saving his life. As the tree he climbed was a bilva tree and that happened to be Shiva rathri the Lord, the ocean of mercy granted the hunter the benefit of observing the Maha Shiva Rathri vratam and granted him salvation though he underwent the fast inadvertently.

This legend is associated to temples namely two temples namely Thiru Vaikavur and Perum Puliyur. So this festival celebrated in a grand manner in these temples. Also o Maha Shiva Rathri is celebrated as a ten day festival along with temple car festival in the following temples. Sri Sailam, Sri Kalahasthi, Rameshvaram and Sri Kokarnam.

Let us also pray the Lord and Mother and observe the vratam and get the blessings of the divine couple.

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