It is believed that out of all the gods, Lord Shiva is most easily pleased. Yes, we are accustomed to follow the easiest path! MahaShivratri falls on 13th of February this year and Shiva followers are already trodding paths in hopes of making him happy and bringing home loads of luck and fortune.
Then there is a legend behind everything
The literal translation of the festival name is “Great night of Shiva” and to support this, there are many associated legends which is not surprising at all (considering our mythology is sooooo vast!)
- Some believe it to be the night of Lord Shiva and Parvati’s marriage.
- Others say that Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction on this night.
- Shivratri is also celebrated as the annual festival to get over one’s past sins by making offerings to Lord Shiva.
How do people celebrate
- Fasting is the most common tradition followed by devotees on almost every significant day of religious importance . And there it goes..
- Shiva temples are adorned with flowers, lights and vibrant decorations.
- The ardent Shiva followers visit temples the first thing in the morning and sing hymns and read Shiva scriptures.
- Woodapple leaves, milk and water are offered to make Shiva happy.
“Spirituality does not come from religion. It comes from your soul. And sometimes all it takes is just one prayer to change everything”
Get ready to accommodate that most wanted change in your lives this year as you explore the best places where MahaShivratri is celebrated.
1) Neelkanth Mahadev temple, Haridwar, Uttarakhand
Ganga Ghats in Haridwar and Rishikesh are believed to wash away human sins and bless with divine peace. And as we Indians love exploiting loopholes.. do anything and everything and then take a holy dip in Ganges has always been our thing!
On another Mahashivratri note, devotees visit Shiva temples, do fasting, attend some Yoga sessions and ganga aarti at Har Ki Pauri to revive the spiritual self.
2) Tilbhandeshwar temple, Varanasi, UP
Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva.. Do we need to say more? The sanctified Ganga Ghats, holiest Kashi Vishwanath temple and devotees as ardent as Aghori sadhus, Varanasi is throat dipped into the wave of Shiva followers.
On the D-day, people enact the wedding procession of Lord Shiva and Parvati, a parade progresses throughout the city starting as well as ending at Tilbhandeshwar temple. This continues for around 5-6 hours and devotees celebrate the wedding by dancing on loud music and consuming Bhaang (A form of Marijuana considered as Lord Shiva’s prasad). Yes, now you know where to go!
3) Bhootnath Temple, Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
Mandi is a peaceful and beautiful hamlet in Himachal Pradesh. How ironic it may sound, but the truth is that Mahashivratri (Festival of God) is celebrated with great vigour and zeal in the Bhootnath Temple (Ghost temple).
A week-long “International Mandi Shivratri fair” is held in which hundreds of religious deities are brought in palanquins. People sway to musical beats to express their happiness. A decorative and vibrant procession known as Shobha yatra proceeds through the city. Devotees in thousands come together to be a part of these historic celebrations.
4) Umananda temple, Guwahati, Assam
Just like every other corner of the country, Assam celebrates Mahashivratri with great zeal. People throng the Umananda temple and become a proud part of decorations and divine prayers.
Shiva dol is another temple in Sibsagar which rises upto a height of 104 feet. Devotees offer various items to Shivalinga as a symbol of gratitude. Also lamps and incense sticks are burnt along with chantings in order to follow the rituals.
5) Matangeshwar temple, Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh
Matangeshwar temple of Khajuraho observes Mahashivratri celebrations as a grand affair and hence the associated magnificence. A week-long dance festival is organised which is ornated by best classical dancers.
A 10 day long fair observes numerous participants and a variety of handicrafts besides the rural circus show, magic shows, folk theatre, and merry-go-rounds. The 2.5 meters high Lingam is bathed with water collected from the holy rivers of India. The mantra chanting continues throughout the night, and then woodapple leaves and flower petals are offered to the lingam.
6) Mahakaleshwar temple, Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
The temple turns into a beautiful festive sight during MahaShivratri. Quite obvious, hundreds of thousands of devotees flock the temple premises and queues extend huge.
However, there is a paid shortcut to cut the line and offer your prayers with a paid pujari (Yes, the so called Indian jugaad). The celebrations go on for 9 days and the temple is decorated with flowers. The last day of Mahashivratri is celebrated with all the traditional rituals.
7) Loknatha temple, Puri, Odisha
Puri is a religious city with considerably high number of Shiva followers. It is believed that Lord Ram established the Shivalinga in Loknath temple. It remains submerged in the water until Pankhodar Ekadashi which occurs just before Mahashivratri. The water is removed and in order to gain that holy sight of shivalinga, numerous devotees visit the temple.
Apart from Loknatha temple; Lingaraj temple, Hakateshwar temple are also the main centres of Mahashivratri celebrations in Orissa.
8) Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple in Srisailam, Srikalahasteeswara temple in Srikalahasti, Andhra Pradesh
Both the temples are proud witnesses to Mahashivratri festivities. The grand procession is taken out on a royal chariot to mark grand celebrations. This event continues for 13 days and devotees fast throughout the festive day. Temples echo with the chanting of Shiva mantras and bhajans.
Sri Mallikarjuna Swamy temple is another significant sight where Shiva followers worship by offering milk, curd, honey, rose water, woodapple leaves and fruits to the Shivalinga in hope of making the God happy and bringing in good luck and fortune.
9) Someshwar temple, Trimbakeshwar, Nashik
Nashik is a city of utmost important religious activities, be it Shiva pooja or Kumbh mela (occurs every 12 years). The Someshwar Temple is dedicated to Shiva and the Kalpeshwar temple is dedicated to Nandi, Shiva’s bull.
It is the only temple with the lingam in the shape of a bowl which is considered as the unison of Bramha, Vishnu and Mahesh. A palkhi procession of the diety is carried out on Mahashivratri at midnight. Devotees appear in thousands of numbers.
10) Hindu Kashmiri, Kashmir valley
The Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Mahashivratri with sheer devotion. It is known as “Herath” in Kashmir. Marking the happiness of Lord Shiva and Parvati marriage, people collect fruits and sweets. They even offer non-vegetarian food in Pooja to feed Bhairavas who are the majority in Shiva’s Baraat.
Another important tradition among Kashmiri Brahmins involves married women visiting their maternal homes and returning with money and a pot which is considered to be auspicious.
Mahashivratari date – Feb 13, 2018
“Jyotirlingas” – Jyotir Lingum means ‘Radiance sign of Lord Shiva’. A devotional representation of supreme god Shiva and there are 12 Jyotirlingas in India.
Locations of 12 Jyotirlingas
- Somnath Temple, Saurashtra, Gujrat
- Srishailam, Mallikarjuna Swamy Temple, AndhraPradesh
- Ujjain, Mahakaleshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
- Omkareshwar Temple, Madhya Pradesh
- Parali Vaidyanath Temple, Maharashtra
- Bhimashankar, Dhakini, Maharashtra
- Rameshwaram Temple, Tamilnadu
- Nageshwar Temple, Dharukavanam, Maharashtra
- Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, UttarPradesh
- Tryambakeshwar Temple, Maharashtra
- Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand
- Grishneshwar Temple, Maharashtra
Popular Mahashivratri Bhajans
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