To Hindus, Maha Shivratri remains a major festival. It is one of the few festivals which people celebrate all over India. It’s a festival when women and girls fast for the whole day—and later, at night, touch food only after prayers to Lord Shiva.
We all know this detail, but there are a few more details which, unfortunately, most of us aren’t aware of. Let’s get to know them—
6. Significance of the bilva leaves
According to the tradition, Lord Shiva must be prayed to with the leaves from bilva trees. These leaves are quite special as each stalk has not one or two, but three leaves.
These three leaves are representations of the three nadis: ida, pingala and sushuma, the nexus of which is known as anja chakra.
The climb up the tree signifies the ascent of the kundalini shakti to the anja chakra from the muladhara.
Any person who concentrates on this point is believed to gain control of his/her senses and go ahead in the path of achieving salvation.
5. Keeping awake
We all know that people offering prayers to Lord Shiva on this auspicious day ought to remain awake till the wee hours of the morning. This practice, too, isn’t without reason.
In Hinduism, keeping awake channelizes a kind of awareness and determination that one needs in order to excel in all the worldly activities (a person can never lose track ever), and give a purpose to his/her karma.
After all, it is only after you do justice to karma that you’ll go ahead in your path to enlightenment.
We all know about tandava, the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, but most of us are unaware of the fact that it is done to attract all of us—the mortal beings—to take refuge in his divinity.
The amalgamation of mortals and divinity refers to a complete purge of the soul, which heralds a newer outlook, a cleansed soul and a newer determination to face all worldly challenges anew.
3. Significance of fasting
Shiva is regarded as the most knowledgeable Divine Creator—and fasting is intimately linked with this. Fasting, in Hindu mythology, is a means to come closer to divinity—the term jagaran (keeping awake the whole night, or in this case, awakening to a spiritual knowledge) refers to awaken someone from deep slumber that is powered by greed, lust and worldly woes.
It is to replenish and cleanse ourselves off all the adversities of life that Shivaratri is celebrated by Hindus.
2. The significance of night
Shivratri is a festival celebrated at night—it’s related not to the sun, but to the moon, which is symbolic of the mind.
Just like the moon, after moving for 16 days, is left with only 1/6th of the power, similarly, people’s minds too get preoccupied by worldly whims and fancies; they need to be replenished in order to stay true to their karma.
Hence, on Shivratri, while praying to Lord Almighty with determination, bhakti and discipline, one is revitalized and gets back control over life all over again.
1. Shiva—the Supreme Consciousness
Lord Shiva, one of the most powerful Gods in Hindu mythology, is known to illuminate all the three stages—deep slumber, waking and dreaming.
Offering water or milk along with the bilva leaves on the shivlangam uplifts the spirit of the devotee to a whole new level—turiya—which lies beyond the three-fold level of slumber-waking-dreaming.
The dawn of this stage in the individual heralds a spiritual awakening of the person and helps him/her in accomplishing the karma, thereby making him a complete, pure individual.