Monday, March 3, 2008

March 5th- 6th 2008 - Shivarathri

Shivarathri this year falls on the night of 6th of March 2008. But temples in some regions are celebrating it on the 5th of March. Please confirm with your local custom regarding the exact date.

Significance of Shivarathri:

Sri Maha Shivaratri means "The Night of Shiva". The pooja and vratham take place mainly at night. This is a festival observed in honour of Lord Shiva. Shiva was married to Parvati on this day. This is the night when Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.

People repeat the Panchakshara Mantra "Om Namah Shivaya" as it is said he who utters the Names of Shiva during Shivaratri, with perfect devotion and concentration, is freed from all sins. He reaches the abode of Shiva and lives there happily. He is liberated from the wheel of births and deaths. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples.

Story behind the greatness of Shivarathri:

One of the many incidents told about the greatness of this day, is as follows. Once a hunter in a jungle after searching throughout the jungle, was quite tired and could not get any animal. In the nightfall a tiger started chasing him. to escape from that he climbed a tree. That was a Bilva tree. The tiger sat under the tree waiting for him to come down. The hunter who sat on a branch of the tree was quite tense and didn't want to sleep. He was plucking the leaves and putting down as he could not be idle. Below the tree there was a Shiva lingam. The whole night went on like this. God was pleased with the Upavasa (hunger) and the Pooja the hunter did even without knowledge. He gave the hunter and the tiger "Moksha".

What to do during Shivarathri:

One should fast the whole night of Shivarathri and break the fast next morning. Lord Shiva's name should be chanted with complete devotion. Shiva temples should be visited for obtaining Lord's blessings. Worshipping Lord Shiva during Shivarathri destroys the sins accumulated over a multitude of previous births and purifies the intellect.

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