Shiva Ratri is dedicated to lord shiva, virtually meaning the night dedicated to Lord Shiva, god of destruction. He is considered as the strongest among all gods and goddesses.
On this occasion, all the Shiva shrines of the country are over crowded by Hindu devotees. Offer flower and Margot leaves. They take bath in holy rivers, perform penance and keep vigil throughout the right singing ancient hymns and praying Shiva with his 1008 names.
The temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu is visited by millions of devotees from the different parts of Nepal and pilgrims from India. They camp around the temple and all the lodges and guest houses are filled with pilgrims.
When is Shiva Ratri celebrated?
Shiva Ratri falls on the fourteenth day of the waning moon in late February and early March.
Why is Shiva Ratri celebrated?
It is believed that Lord Shiva lives in the mountains, where it’s cold throughout the year. However, he meditates all the time wrapped only with tiger skin. However, on this day, it is believed that even Lord Shiva feels cold. Therefore, worshippers make a bonfire, so he feels warm.
Story behind the celebration
In the time of Samundra Manthan, the poison Halahal came out of the ocean resulting in destruction of the universe. Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it on his throat to protect every living being. Therefore, Shiva ratri is celebrated.
How is Shiva Ratri celebrated?
The Religious fervor intensifies as the night falls. The whole area is illuminated by oil-fed lamps and electric bulbs. The sweet smell of incense rhythm of hymns and chaotic din of the crowd all together give the impression of a different age, removed from ours. Behind all there is the strong belief that such rituals will serve Kailash from the devotees.
There are mainly six items as per the Shiva Purna, that is regarded as a precious item to worship the Lord shiva. They are Beal fruit, Vermilion Paste (Chandan), Food Items (Prasad), Incense, Lamp (Diyo), and Betel Leaves.
Offering Beal leaves or Marmelos leaf represents purification of the soul. Vermillion paste or chandan on Shiva Linga represents good features, it is also the most important and inseparable part of the ritual. Prasad is the food item that is loved by Lord shiva, usually, rice and fruits are offered during the ritual. Incense and diyo lamps are another most important part of any rituals in Hindu religion, they represent wealth, prosperity and knowledge respectively. Worshippers lit the light and incense and asked for the blessings. Betle leaf represents satisfaction with maturity.
Families gather around at the end of the night, make a bonfire and cook potato salad, and halwa as an evening meal.
ॐ नम: शिवाय (Om) Namaha Shivaya)
Lord shiva is worshipped and the devotees chant this famous mantra. Each letter in Om namaha shivaya has a meaning.
Om is one of the most popular and famous sound used by spiritual and religious practiconer throughout the world. It is a sound of life, that has an endless vibration flowing through our body to the universe. If you chant Om in a gorup it also sounds like a beautiful symphony. Chanting of this word revitalizes mind, body and sould.
Meaning of each letters of the mantra
n (न) : Main god of all the regions (loks)
m (म) : One who gifts supreme and spiritual knowledge (dnyan) and destroys greatest sins
Shi (शि) : generous, calm and responsible for the beginning by Lord Shiva
va (वा) : Symbol of vehicle (Nandi) the bull and the Vasuki and Vamangi Energies (Shakti)
y (य) : Positive residence of highest heaven and Lord Shiva.
If you want to learn more about other festivities here are some popular ones:
- Deepwali: Festival of Lights
- Gai Jatra: The Procession of the Cow
- Significance of Janai Purnima or Rakshya Bandhan
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