Come Thursday, Feb.27th this year and it is Mahashivaratri.
Celebrated by Hindus all over, this holy day has great significance. It is believed that those who celebrate Mahashivaratri by observing complete fast and doing pooja in Lord Shiva’s name are blessed with a happy life throughout.
Observed every year, Mahashivratri, Shivaratri or Sivaratri falls on the 13th night or 14th day of month Phalguna or Maagh of the Hindu Calendar.
Devotees throng to Shiva temples across the country and offer prayers and offerings of milk and fruits
Ardent devotees eat only one time during the previous day and on the morning of Shivaratri they pledge (make the Sankalp) to undergo fast till the next day and offer pooja, consuming nothing during that period.
A daunting task but reaping massive benefits if successful, devotees also appeal to the God to help them undergo the fast without hitch.
Poojas are offered in the night and the entire period is divided into four parts when poojas can be performed for the Lord’s blessings. The fast is broken between sunrise the next day and the end of the Chaturdashi Tithi (an auspicious time) to reap maximum benefit of the fast.
For women Mahashivratri is very auspicious and believe that fasting and offering prayers will secure for them, a happy married life.
Changes have come about over the years. While there are some who are rigid in partaking absolutely nothing except water (maybe a few don’t even have that) during the fasting period, most households where it is observed prefer to take certain fruits, milk and a special light preparation made for the occasion (prescribed by certain religious texts).
Story has it that Mahashivaratri day was liked by Lord Shiva on account of being united with Goddess Parvati in marriage on the occasion. Some others have it that it is the day when Lord Shiva in his ecstasy performed the Tandava Nrutya or dance for the benefit of the Universe.
Mahashivaratri is observed in a very big way in the fourteen Shiv Dhams across the country. Amarnath is by far the most popular where thousands upon thousands of pilgrims visit throughout the year and more so during Mahashivaratri. Neighbouring Nepal also has very many devotees of Lord Shiva who also observe the rituals steadfastly.
Fasting is definitely good for the body. And if it is done for the Lord it fetches divine blessings as well.