India is a country of festivities. Each festival has its own beauty and story and is celebrated in its own unique manner. One such festival is Maha Shivaratri. It is basically a Hindu festival and is celebrated in order to honour Lord Shiva. The essence of the festival lies in the fact that on this festival, at night, Lord Shiva performs the heavenly dance, called “Shiv Tandav”.
Essay on Maha Shivaratri for CBSE students
Diving deep into the history of this festival, one can easily find its mention in Puranas. To put it more specifically, it is mentioned in Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana. These are the texts or scripts about the details of the celebration of the festival in the medieval era. Some prominent things mentioned in these texts include – fasting. Fasting was represented as respect for Lord Shiva. Even to this day, many people keep fast, for hours as respect to the Lord.
Interestingly, one can find amazing facts about the significance of this festival. One such fact is that this festival is the night when Shiva performs his heavenly dance. This dance is a beautiful mixture of creation, perseverance, and destruction.
Chanting of hymns is also said to be associated with the dance providing it with the beauty of another world. As a result, it is believed that on this day, even now, the priests chant the hymns to remember Lord Shiva.
Other than this there are facts like on this day Lord Shiva married Parvati and yet there are facts which state the offerings one makes to Lord Shiva on this day to get atoned for their past sins and set themselves on a new virtuous path for liberation of their souls. No matter how many facts and versions of the festival exist, one fact remains is the undying beauty of the festival in different parts of India and the respect of the people for their Lord.
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The heavenly dance performed by Lord Shiva has served as a source for the artists and it is said that at many Hindu temples this dance is performed by trained peoples. Some temples to be considered as examples include – Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera and Chidambaram. The dance event has also earned the name “Natyanjali”, carrying the meaning “worship through dance”, at the Chidambaram temple. This temple, in particular, is famous for its sculptures portraying different mudras of the dance.
Maha Shivaratri is also considered as the day when the first guru (Adi yogi) awakened his consciousness. It is also mentioned by Tantra that at this stage of consciousness one’s mind is transcended. When the yogi attains the stage of Nirvana, it is considered as the brightest night.
Very unique nature of this festival is that while all the festivals of India are celebrated in broad daylight, Maha Shivaratri, in particular, is celebrated at night.
Now, moving on with the rituals and preparations for the participation in the festival, it includes maintaining “Jagran” or an all-night vigil and prayers. The reason behind this is that Hindus consider the night as ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance’. It means that the ones who remain awake the whole night get rid of their sins, or the darkness that surrounds them in the form of unending troubles, on this night.
Lord Shiva is offered fruits, leaves, sweets and milk by the people, who keep a day-long fast for Lord Shiva. Some people perform yoga as a form of meditation to pay their respect to Lord Shiva. As mentioned before that certain rituals are performed in the temples on this day. One such is “Om Namah Shivaya”, which is chanted the whole day in the temples. “ Om Namah Shivaya” is the sacred mantra of Lord Shiva.
The duration of Maha Shivaratri is over 3 or 10 days. This duration is purely based on the Hindu lunisolar calendar. As per this calendar, every lunar month, there happens to be one Shivaratri, which makes a total of 12 per year. The main festival is held on the 13th night and the 14th day of the Phalguna month.
Tamil Nadu in India witnesses a grand celebration of Maha Shivaratri, in Annamalaiya temple in Tiruvannamalai district. The special process on this day is the “girivalam” or “Giri pradakshina”. It is a 14-kilometre walk, by foot, around Lord Shiva’s temple situated on the top of the hills. After this process, a huge lamp, comprising oil and camphor, is lit on the top of the hills at the time of sunset.
The temples in India, particularly the Jyotirlinga Shiva temples are more frequently filled with tourists and others on the occasion of this festival than on any other day. To attract more peoples, these places happen to organize a lot of events and fair for the people as well as for tourists from various [arts.
Shivratri yatras are also held in some parts of India including – Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. To mention some specific places for the yatras, we have – Mallayya gutta near Kambhalapalle, Gundlakamma Kona near Railway Koduru,etc.
There happens to another beautiful fact about the night of Maha Shivaratri. It is believed that on this day, at night, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in a way that it feels to a human being that he is experiencing a natural upsurge of energy. To put it simply, one feels to gain energy on the night naturally as if Lord Shiva is giving them blessings to deal with all sorts of darkness existing in their lives.
As a part of our conclusion, we might have mixed feelings about this festival. On the one hand, we are enchanted by the uniqueness and heavenliness of this festival. On the other, there happens to be a rising urge inside us to discover more and more about this festival.
Maha Shivaratri is truly a festival, as beautiful as the name suggests, as heavenly as it feels. Although gradually one might feel that a lot of beliefs is associated with the festival and might create a sense of mystery in the minds, yet it cannot be denied that the spirituality associated with it is truly divine and above all human beliefs and findings.