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Mahashivratri Puja: A Sacred Festival For Lord Shiva

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By Author: Rudraksha Ratna
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Mahashivratri Puja: A Sacred Festival for Lord Shiva

The spirituality opulent night of Mahashivratri is celebrated to glorify Lord Shiva. It is one of the most prominent of twelve Masik (monthly) Shivratri and it falls during the Phalguna, the month of the Hindu calendar. For devotees of Lord Shiva, it is the most propitious day of the year who take refuge in Him to relieve them of all sufferings and miseries and bless them abundantly with His divine grace.
The celebration prevails throughout the night with devotees observing fast, observing vigil, and performing activities like singing hymns dedicated to Lord Shiva, chanting sacred Panchakshari mantras, singing Bhajans (devotional songs), meditating and offering libations of water, fruit juices, Panchamrit, along with offerings of flowers, Bel Patra to Shivling, an iconic representation of Lord Shiva. Worshipping Lord Shiva on this day is believed to easily appease Him and absolve one of all His sins and help attain greater heights.

Significance of the puja on the great night of Shiva

Astrologically on the northern hemisphere of the planet earth, the impact of planetary positions on this day is such that there is a natural upsurge of energy in the human body. So, even observing vigil throughout the night sitting straight with spine erect allows one to feel spiritually elevated. Fast is observed by devotees to prepare the body and mind to absorb the divine vibrations of the night. Shivling Abhishek is performed throughout the night as on this day, the Shivling is believed to emit waves of bliss, peace, and cosmic intelligence in a higher percentage which helps purify the mind and soul of worshippers while performing Abhishek rituals. Also, the capacity to absorb the divine vibrations increases, and one experiences peace and calmness.



The Legend of Mahashivratri Puja

Shiva Purana narrates a story about a hunter named Gurudruha, who was strong and ruthless. He also indulged in cruel activities and hardly had any auspicious activities that could be attributed to him. One day he ventured into the forest to hunt and kill animals as his family along with his wife, children and parents were starving due to hunger. Despite searching and waiting he did not find a single kill. Growing desperate as night descended, he decided to climb upon a Bilva tree near a pond in hope of finding an animal that might come there to quench its thirst. He kept vigil for hours and to pass time was plucking Bilva leaves and throwing it down which fell on a Shivling coincidently present under the tree. The water from the pot present in his drinking pot also fell on the Shivling by accident. After a long wait finally, a deer approached the pond to drink water, and seizing this opportunity Gurudruha delightfully set his bow to kill it. The deer got alerted to hearing noise and noticed the hunter ready to kill with his bow and arrow. The deer frightened began to question the reason for killing an innocent animal that did not harm him. To which the hunter explained his family was dying of hunger so he had to kill the deer. The deer pleaded with the hunter to spare her some time to bid adieu to her family and entrust her little fawns to her companion and then return to be his kill and also swore on an oath. The hunger through desperate and full anger not willing to let her go took pity on her and agreed to spare her some time.

After the deer left during the second and third quarter of the night, the same scene occurred with two deer who requested him to spare them some time. The hunter contrary to his cruel nature again let go of these deer. All three deer being from the same family met and decided to sacrifice themselves instead of others and arrived at the place where the hunter was to let him decide whom he would like to kill. When they arrived and shared their thoughts, the hunter was moved by their sincerity and sacrificing nature. He had a change of heart and spared all of them. Suddenly Lord Shiva emerged from the Shivling and said to the hunter that since he offered puja in all the four quarters of night, he was pleased and would grant him a boon of his desire. Hunter was surprised and by now forgone any desire and was happy with the darshan of Lord. Lord Shiva stated that all his sins and lowly qualities had washed off and now he had transcended to divine state and blessed his family to prosper for coming generations. The event that occurred on the day was Mahashivratri and the hunter though unknowingly offered puja to Shiva and kept vigil throughout the night was blessed.

This beautiful story explains that performing Mahashivratri puja by even the most ignorant person can cleanse him/her of his/her sinful tendencies and elevate them to the state of divinity. The day of Mahashivratri is a great opportunity for one to elevate to the state of divinity and grow spiritually.

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