The festival of Mahashivaratri bears immense significance in Hindu culture and is celebrated with remarkable vigor and devotion all across the country. Observed to commemorate the matrimony between to two Hindu deities Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, on this day hordes of devotees visit temples and offer ritualistic bath to lord Shiva. Fasting and signing bhajans have also been the important traditions associated with the festival. Special pujas are performed in Lord Shiva temples all throughout the country and fruits and all sorts of sweet dishes are also offered. Right from the dawn till the night on the occasion of Shivaratri, the devotees observe a number of rituals in accordance to the Shiva Purana. Special drinks are also prepared by the ascetics, which according to the legends Lord Shiva himself was extremely fond of. Apart from these there are innumerable customs and traditions associated with the festival of Mahashivaratri. Explore the article below and come across all the traditions.
Maha Shivaratri Customs & Traditions
On the day of the Maha Shivaratri the devotees take an early morning ritual bath in river Ganges. The devotees offer prayers to the Sun God, lord Vishnu and Shiva and pray for their absolution for all previous sins. People wear new clothes on this day and visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.
Ritualistic Shiva Lingam Bath
On the occasion of Shivaratri, the Shiva lingam is offered a ritualistic bath in the temples all throughout the country with milk, yoghurt, honey, sandalwood paste and rose water. Om Namah Shivaya is constantly chanted during the ritual bath after the conclusion of which vermilion or sandalwood paste is applied on the lingam. After the baths the Bilva leaves are placed on the top of the lingam and fruit platters are placed in front of the god. The devotees also decorate the lingam with flowers and garlands and lit incense sticks.
Customs & Traditions
Devotees all around the countries visit Shiva temples to offer their sincere prayers and seek blessing of this supreme deity. After the traditional pujas, which are conducted following the puranas, water from the holy river of Ganges is sprinkled on the idols or lingams. After the ritualistic bath in milk and yogurt in the temples bells are rung and the devotees would chant the names of Lord Shiva. Bhajans are sung at the temples and kirtans are organized in the evenings which continue till morning. As Shivaratri commemorates the marriage of lord Shiva and goddess Parvati, the married Hindu women throng the temples and pray for the protection and wellbeing of their husbands to Lord Shiva. Even the unmarried women on this day observe fast and pray to Lord Shiva for an ideal husband and marital bliss.
Special dishes are prepared with all sorts of fruits and root vegetables and are offered to Lord Shiva. The devotees, who have observed the Mahashivaratri fast (vrat) would break the fast early in the next morning with the prasad which was offered to the deity, the previous night.
Lord Shiva is worshipped as an ascetic god and thus the festival of Maha Shivaratri bears special significance to the ascetics. Thandai, a special drink made with bhang (cannabis), almonds, and milk, is essentially prepared on this day. The devotees, especially the ascetics, drink this cannabis drink and offer their prayers to the almighty and seek his blessings.
Shivaratri is an important Indian festival which the devotees observe as per the rituals mentioned in the Shiva Purana. People with utmost sincerity offer their prayers to the deity who is said to be the destroyer of evil seeking salvation.