RAMESH SAVAIKAR|NT NETWORK
Mahashivratri (known as ‘Night of Shiva’) is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated on Chaturdashi of Krishna Paksha Magh of Magha month of the Hindu calendar (14thday of the dark half fortnight of Magha Month). It is believed that on this night, Lord Shiva performed ‘Tandava Nrutya’, the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
This year, Mahashivratri festival falls on Monday, March 4. On this auspicious day, devotees glorify, honour, and worship Lord Shiva with sanctifying rituals throughout the night. Devotees fast from morning of Shivratri day. They consume only milk and fruits. Lord Shiva is the most revered Hindu God and one of the three main deities of Hinduism. He is the fountain head of perfection, yoga, meditation, bliss, and spirituality.
On the day of Shivratri, puja is supremely auspicious and beneficial. The puja includes abhishekas on linga of Shiva, using milk and honey, panchkavya and offering of betel leaves, belpatra, vermilion, fruits and flowers. Devotees who worship with true devotion on Mahashivratri are believed to be freed from all sins and blessed with health, wealth and success. It paves the way for nirvana or mokshya.
There are many legends about Mahashivratri festival. According to one of it after the Earth’s creation was complete, Lord Shiva told Parvati that it pleases him most when his devotees worship Him with belpatra, on the 14th day of waning moon in the month of Magha.
As per Vedic scriptures, on the day of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva revealed His linga form. Hence devotees perform rudra bhishekas at midnight of Mahashivratri to worship the formless Sadashiva. According to the legend of ‘Samudramanthana’, Shiva saved the whole word and humanity by consuming poison halahal which emerged as byproduct from churning of ‘Kshir sagar’ or the milky ocean. With His immense yogic powers he was able to stop poison in his throat. So he is known as Nilkantha, the blue throated one.
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the Shiva mantra chanted during performing rudrabhishekas on linga. The leaves of bilva are offered and His blessings are sought.
Mahashivratri festival is celebrated in almost all states in India by Hindus. In Goa the festival is celebrated on a large scale at Shri Rusdreshwar Temple of Harvalem- Sankhali. On this day, devotees take a dip in the sacred water of Harvalem Waterfall, seek darshan of Rudreshwar, perform abhishekas, and seek His blessings. Devotees from different parts of the state throng to Harvalem.
Mahashivratri is also celebrated at Saptakoteshwar Temple of Narve- Bicholim, Lingachi kond in Bicholim, Shri Vathadev Temple at Vathadev- Bicholim, Old Goa and Opa- Khandepar at Mahadeva Temple. Devotees here observe a day long fast, perform puja of Shiva’s linga and break fast after midnight.