...OM NAMAH SHIVAAY...
JAI SHIV SHANKAR..
There are many legends associated to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. One of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. It is believed that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed the 'Tandava', the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri - the grand night of Shiva.
Mahashivratri Festival is particularly awaited by Hindu women. On Mahashivratri, married and unmarried women perform puja with great faith, as Goddess Parvati who is also called 'Gaura', is regarded as the giver of 'suhaag' - good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life. One can therefore see find women enthusiastically observing the fast and performing the rituals Shiva Pujas on the day.
It is also believed that on Shivratri, Lord Shiva became 'Neelkanth' or the blue-throated by swallowing the deadly poison that came up during the churning of "Ksheer Sagar" (Amrit-Manthan) or the milky ocean. The poison was so deadly that even a drop in His stomach, which represents the universe, would have annihilated the entire world. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, Gods approached Lord Shiva for help and protection as only he could swallow it without being affected. On the request of gods and out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank the poison. However, Parvati - Lord Shiva's consort pressed his neck so that the poison does not reach his stomach. Hence, He held it in His neck, which turned blue due to the effect of poison. Shivratri is therefore also a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting us from annihilation. 'Neel' means blue and 'Kanth' means neck or Throat' (Blue-neckedone).
Significance of Puja Items
* According to the Shiva Purana, there is a special significance of the six essential puja items used in the Shiva worship.
* Bathing of Shivalinga with water, milk and honey and wood apple or bel leaves added to it, represents purification of the soul.
* The vermilion paste applied on the linga after the ritual bath represents virtue.
* Offering of fruits symbolizes longevity and gratification of desires.
* Burning of incense sticks yields wealth.
* The lighting of the lamp symbolizes attainment of knowledge.
* Offering of betel leaves marks satisfaction with worldly pleasures.
* Keep on chanting whole day Shiv-Panchakshri Mantra...''Om Namah Shivaay''
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