Like every year, Maha Shivratri (also called Maha Shivaratree), the great night of Shiva is going to be celebrated with great fervor on the 17th night of February this year (2015). Hindus across the world are going to pay tribute to the ultimate yogi, Lord Shiva himself. Let’s explore a bit about the fascinating deity Shiva and have a look at the significance which this festival holds for the Hindu community.
Who is Lord Shiva?
Lord Shiva forms part of the Hindu Trinity, which constitutes also of Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. On account of his activity of dissolution and recreation of the universe, the word destroyer is often associated with Lord Shiva. Many people fail to understand the true significance behind. The sustenance of life on earth depends on the balance between the good and evil forces. When this balance is disrupted, Lord Shiva has to step in and dismantle the universe so that the next cycle can be instituted, thus giving us mortals another chance to free ourselves from the bondage of this physical world.
He is known as “Ashutosh” which means “easily pleased”. He is a God full of compassion, always there to protect his devotees in times of need. Ancient literature abounds in stories depicting Lord Shiva’s grace and mercy which he bestows on those who worship him with full faith and good intentions.
What is Maha Shivratri?
Maha Shivratri is a day which marks the marriage of Lord Shiva to Goddess Parvati. This festival is considered auspicious for women, both married and spinsters. They generally observe this fast zealously to appease Goddess Parvati, considered to be the bestower of marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life. Lord Shiva is deemed as an ideal husband by women of the Hindu faith and thus, unmarried women do not fail to observe the fast fervently with the belief and hope of being blessed with such a spouse.
On the occasion of Maha Shivratri, we fast during the day and keep a night-long vigil. The aim behind is to help us control the wandering tendency of our mind and our ability to asbstain from food , which is achieved through fasting and to monitor the “Tamasic” (tamas being a Sanskrit word meaning “darkness”) condition of sleep by spending the night chanting the name of the Lord. Once these obstacles to God-realization are overcome, we are able to transcend to another level altogether. Maha Shivratri is therefore symbolic of self-control. By uttering the name of Lord Shiva with pure devotion during Maha Shivratri, one is believed to be freed from all past sins and to attain “Moksha”, that is, liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Maha Shivratri is a God-sent opportunity for us to break away from our daily routine and devote time to praying to Lord Shiva with all our heart, trusting that he will get rid of all our pain and troubles and grant us wisdom so that we can make the right decisions in all aspects of our life. Here’s wishing all of you a pious Maha Shivratri. May Lord Shiva shower his divine blessings on all Mauritians and people across the globe!