Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival which is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe this day by fasting, chanting prayers and meditating. Unlike other Hindu festivals, which are celebrated during the day, Maha Shivratri is celebrated during the night. Celebrations also include bathing the Shiva Linga in honey and milk in the temples.
Why do we celebrate Maha Shivratri?
Legend says that Shivratri is celebrated as the day when Lord Brahma – The creator of the universe and Lord Vishnu – The protector of the universe, got into an argument about their supremacy over each other.
While engaged in the fight, a shining “Lingam”(Shiva Linga) appeared in between the two of them, going up into the sky, through the clouds and seemed to have no beginning or end. Awestruck by its magnitude, Brahma and Vishnu decided to compete to find one end each – with the winner establishing supremacy over the loser. Brahma started his journey into the sky and Vishnu descended into the depths of the world.
In his journey, Brahma came across a Ketaki flower that had been placed at the top of the Lingam, but had floated down. He lied by saying he had reached the top, using the flower as his proof. This angered Shiva and he revealed his true form in front of them. He punished Brahma, and cursed him that no one would ever pray to him. Lord Shiva made them realise that there was a third power mightier than them, Shiva – The creator, preserver and the destroyer of the universe.
Since, this was the first time Shiva manifested himself as a Linga, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri.
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