Saturday, February 24, 2018
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Shivratri

Shivratri
Place :All over India
Month: February/March
Significance: Worship of Lord Shiva
Date: 13.2.2018

All over the country, Maha Shivratri is observed on the 13th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna (February or March). This is the night, when Lord Shiva danced the 'Tandava'-his cosmic dance. 

There is a Shivaratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month's 13th night and 14th day, but once a year in late winter February or March, or Phalguna and before the arrival of spring, marks Maha Shivaratri. Many pilgrims flock to the places where there are Shiva temples. Devotees of Shiva observe a  strict fast on this day and maintain a long vigil during the night. Some devotees do not even take a drop of water. In temples, bells ring, sacred texts are chanted and traditional offerings of leaves and milk are made to the Shiv lingam, the phallic symbol of the god. The major Shaivite temples at Varanasi, Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh), and Chidambaram (Tamil Nadu) are noted for their special celebrations. 

The Shiva Lingam is worshipped throughout the night by washing it every three hours with milk, clarified butter, curd, honey, rose water etc., and applying vermilion paste, whilst the chanting of the Mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya'. Offerings of bel leaves are made to the Lingam. Bel (wood apple) leaves are very sacred as, it is said, Lakshmi resides in them. Drinking a typical drink made with cannabis, almonds and milk, is held particularly auspicious by the devout. Hymns in praise of Lord Shiva, such as the 'Shiva Mahimna Stotra' of Pushpadanta or Ravana's 'Shiva Tandava Stotra' are sung with great fervour and devotion. Besides remembering Shiva, taking fasts and chanting prayers, Maha Shivratri is observed by meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, forgiveness, not hurting others, and the discovery of Shiva. It marks a remembrance of overcoming darkness and ignorance, in life and the world.



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