Like many other Hindu Festivals, Maha Shivratri also holds great importance. This year, Indians all over the world will celebrate Maha Shivratri 2022 on March 1st. The Nishita Kaal time AKA the most auspicious time for the late-night Shiva Pooja will be between 12:08 AM to 12:58 AM on March 2nd.
According to the Hindu calendar, Shivratri is observed every month of the lunisolar calendar. But once a year, in late winter, Maha Shivratri is observed to honour the approaching summer. Maha Shivratri means ‘the great night of Shiva,’ and there are many mythological stories that signify that Shiva performs his heavenly dance, or ‘tandav,’ during the Nishita Kaal.
People chant Shiva Mantra in order to calm Lord Shiva’s anger on the upcoming midnight during the Nishita Kaal and also to receive his blessings on the most powerful day. However, very less people know about the mythology, legends and the reason behind the celebration of this Grand spiritual and religious festival.
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Why do we celebrate Maha Shivratri?
Many believe that Maha Shivratri is the night of Shiva and Shakti’s union. It has the nature of keeping the masculine and feminine forces of the planet in Balance. In Hinduism, this day is said to be the day of overcoming darkness and ignorance in life.
This major religious night is also popular for Lord Shiva’s ‘Tandav’ which represents ‘creation, preservation and destruction’. One reason also remains the time during Samudra Manthan when Shiva rescued the world by drinking all the poison that erupted from the ocean.
The Legend Behind Maha Shivratri
Lord Shiva represents the universe’s constituent elements, while Shakti is the dynamic force that causes these elements to come to life and move. The story depicts Lord Shiva’s second marriage to Shakti, his heavenly spouse. According to Shiva and Shakti legend, the day Lord Shiva wedded Parvati is celebrated as Maha Shivratri – the Night of Lord Shiva.
On their journey to the forest, Lord Shiva and his wife Shakti were returning from Agastya rishi’s Ashram. Shiva noticed Ram seeking his wife Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka.
Lord Shiva bowed his head in front of Ram, which startled Shakti, who questioned him why he would bow to an immortal. Shiva then informed Shakti that Rama was an avatar of Lord Vishnu. Shakti, on the other hand, was dissatisfied with the response, and Lord instructed her to go around and examine the reality for herself.
Shakti took the appearance of Sita and arrived before Ram, using her power to change appearances. Ram quickly recognizes Shakti’s actual identity and starts asking about Shiva. Sita was like a mother to Shiva, and when Shiva found out about it, he was devastated. As a wife, he distanced himself from her. Even after Lord Shiva’s change of heart, Shakti resided in Mount Kailash.
Suggested Read: How to Celebrate Maha Shivratri in 2022
Shiva, Sati & Shakti
Daksha, Shakti’s father, held a yagna but did not invite both of them because of his rage towards Shiva. Shakti, who wished to attend the Yagna, went against Lord Shiva’s disapproval. Daksha disregarded her visit and did not even give Prasad for Shiva, adding much more to her dismay. Shakti was embarrassed and overwhelmed with sadness. She leapt into the Yagna fire and sacrificed herself.
When Lord Shiva learned about Shakti’s sacrifice, he got immensely enraged. Carrying Shakti’s body, Shiva began Rudra Tandava, the dance of destruction, and destroyed the realm of Daksha. Everyone was afraid since Shiva’s Tandava has the ability to destroy the whole cosmos. Vishnu split Shakti′s body into 12 pieces and placed them on Earth to calm Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva, now alone, performed meditation and withdrew to the Himalayas. Shakti reincarnated as Parvati in the family of Lord Himalaya. She underwent devotion in order to disrupt Shiva’s meditation and get his attention.
It is said that Goddess Parvati struggled to break Shiva’s concentration, but with her devotion and the help of sages and devas, Parvati was eventually able to entice Shiva into marriage and away from celibacy. Their wedding took place a day before Amavasya in the month of Phalgun. Every year, Mahashivratri celebrates the marriage of God Shiva and Goddess Shakti.
Other Legends behind the celebration of Maha Shivratri
Yoni, also known as Pindika, is an abstract portrayal of Shakti. It is typically paired with a phallus, its male counterpart. According to the Shiva Purana, the Shivalinga is a phallus (Linga) buried in a Yoni, a self-explanatory and profound emblem of creation. Lord Shiva manifested and appeared as Jyotirlinga, the foremost reason is the rivalry of Lord Brahma and Vishnu over supremacy.
Lord Shiva was informed about the unstoppable fight and asked for help to resolve this. Shiva manifested himself as a gigantic fire that covered the entire cosmos. Both were then asked to leave and find the edge, whoever finds it first will be declared superior. Brahma lied about finding the edge by presenting a fake witness, the flower Ketaki. Shiva punished him for speaking a lie and cursed that no one will pray for him.
Even the Ketaki flower was prohibited from being used as an offering in any kind of devotion. Since Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga on the 14th day of the dark half month of Phalguna, the day is extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri.
The Story Of Samudra Manthan
Another such legend is that during the Samudra Manthan – The Churning of the Ocean, a dreadful poison emerged from the depths of the ocean water. Since Lord Shiva drank the poison but didn’t swallow it and held it in his throat, his neck has turned blue. That night is also still celebrated as the legendary Maha Shivratri and Lord Shiva has been referred to as Neelkantha, since then!
There is certainly no Shiva without Shakti or Shakti without Shiva and that’s why the married and unmarried women, the form of Shakti, in India still keep fast to meet their soulmates in the form of Shiva or to protect their Husbands.
Maha Shivratri will always remain in light in Hinduism due to its legendary history and the great Lord Shiva’s deeds. And thus, no Maha Shivratri without a Pure Silk or Cotton Saree, adorned by the shakti who resides in every Indian Household.
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