Mahashivratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva. It is one of the most revered and significant festivals for the Hindus. This auspicious day falls on the 13th night and 14th day of the Hindu month of Phalguna, which usually corresponds to the Gregorian months of February or March.
Mahadev Shiv is the highest form of consciousness and the ultimate ‘Time’, known as Mahakal. Bhagwan Shiv is present in different forms and figures all across the world. On the auspicious day of Mahashivratri it is important to recite the most powerful mantra, ‘Om namah Shivay’ and perform abhishekam of Shiv-lingam.
Forms of Mahadev
According to Shiv Mahapuran, there are two forms of Bhagwan Shiv. The one is the agni-lingam, the form in which first time Shiv appeared in this universe. Therefore, ‘Lingam’ is the word which signifies the ‘Symbol’ of Shiv. This is the ‘nirguna’ form of Shiva while the other is the ‘saguna’ form. In which the human form of Mahadev is worshipped. In this way Shiv is the omnipresent, omniscient and all-knower, formless ‘Brahma’. While for the creatures to praise their lord he takes the form of ‘karpur gauram, karunaavtaaram’; white like camphor and the ultimate compassionate ‘Pashupatinaath’.
There are 12 jyotirlingas in all over Bharat. These 12 forms of shiv-lingam are the most ancient and most-powerful places where Bhagwan Shiv himself had come down on the earth.
The presence of jyotirlingas are meant to connect the devotees with the ultimate form of Mahadev.
- Somnath Jyotirlinga in Gir Somnath, Gujarat.
- Mallikarjuna Jyotirlinga in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh.
- Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.
- Omkareshwar Jyotirlinga in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh.
- Baidyanath Jyotirlinga in Deoghar, Jharkhand.
- Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga in Bhimashankar, Maharashtra.
- Ramanathaswamy Jyotirlinga in Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu.
- Nageshwar Jyotirlinga in Dwarka, Gujarat.
- Kashi Vishwanath Jyotirlinga in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.
- Trimbakeshwar Jyotirlinga in Nashik, Maharashtra.
- Kedarnath Jyotirlinga in Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand.
- Grishneshwar Jyotirlinga in Aurangabad, Maharashtra.
सौराष्ट्रे सोमनाथं च श्रीशैले मल्लिकार्जुनम्। उज्जयिन्यां महाकालमोङ्कारममलेश्वरम्॥
परल्यां वैद्यनाथं च डाकिन्यां भीमशङ्करम्। सेतुबन्धे तु रामेशं नागेशं दारुकावने॥
वाराणस्यां तु विश्वेशं त्र्यम्बकं गौतमीतटे। हिमालये तु केदारं घुश्मेशं च शिवालये॥
एतानि ज्योतिर्लिङ्गानि सायं प्रातः पठेन्नरः। सप्तजन्मकृतं पापं स्मरणेन विनश्यति॥
एतेशां दर्शनादेव पातकं नैव तिष्ठति। कर्मक्षयो भवेत्तस्य यस्य तुष्टो महेश्वराः॥:
द्वादश ज्योतिर्लिंग स्तोत्रम् (the Praise of 12 Jyotirlingas)
Significance of Mahashivratri
The word “Mahashivratri” literally translates to “the Great Night of Shiva,” signifying the night when Lord Shiva was worshipped with utmost devotion and fervor. The festival is believed to commemorate the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and also the day when Lord Shiva performed the “Tandava Nritya,” the dance of destruction and creation.
Devotees observe a fast on the day of Mahashivratri and offer prayers, bhajans, and perform various rituals in Lord Shiva temples. The central ritual of the festival involves offering Bael leaves (bilva-patra), milk, water, and fruits to the Lord and performing an all-night vigil, which is considered highly auspicious. Some people also perform the “Jalabhishek,” which involves pouring water over the lingam to symbolize purification of the soul.
The festival is celebrated with great fervour and zeal across India, with devotees participating in processions and participating in various cultural programs and events. In certain regions, such as the Himalayan belt, Mahashivratri is celebrated for several days, with devotees gathering in large numbers to offer prayers and participate in various rituals.
In conclusion, Mahashivratri is a festival of great spiritual significance for the Hindu community and is a symbol of devotion and faith towards Lord Shiva. It is a day when devotees come together to offer prayers, perform rituals, and celebrate the power and grace of Lord Shiva. The festival continues to be celebrated with great zeal and devotion, and its significance has only grown over the years.