Significance of Mahashivratri
Mahashivratri is one of the biggest festivals in India. It is celebrated on Chaturdashi of Krishna Paksha in Phalgun. In fact, according to Hindu calendar, Shivratri comes every month, but Mahashivratri comes only once a year. On this day devotee offers dhatura, bhang, milk, water, and akwan flowers to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
On this day people pray to Lord Shiva and chant Shiva mantra. Some people keep fasting, do meditation, practice yoga, and keep themselves self-restraint. Most of the passionate devotees keep themselves awake whole night and worship Lord Shiva.
In Indian term, it is called Jagran. Prasad serves in all Hindu temples. Shiva is believed to be an ideal husband so the bachelor girls pray to Lord Shiva to get a husband like him.
WHY AND HOW IT IS CELEBRATED
Most of the people in North India celebrate this day as the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Temples of Lord Shiva are well decorated with lights and flowers. The devotee takes out procession calling it Bhole Ki Barat.
There are so many stories mentioned in Hindu literature describing the reason behind celebrating of this festival.
According to a story in Shiv Purana, there was a debate occurred between two Hindu God Brahma and Vishnu. This debate got converted into a horrifying battle. Frightened other god and goddesses rushed towards Shiva and prayed him to stop them. In order to realize the uselessness of their fight, Shiva assumed a form of fire column.
Brahma and Vishnu were challenged to explore the farthest end of that fire column. Brahma took on the form of Swan and fled upward to explore the end of that column. Vishnu took on the form of varah and moved downward to find the farthest end of the fire column.
Despite going thousands of miles none of them reach to the farthest end of the column. While Brahma was exploring towards the upward direction he happened to pass by a flower that was wafting slowly. Brahma decided to conclude his journey at that point.
He returned back to taking the Ketaki flower with him as a witness to his success and claimed a false statement of success. This angered Shiva so much and he cursed him that no one would ever worship him. In the same way, ketaki flower was also banned that it would not be offered during any worship.
That day was Chaturdashi of Krishna paksha so since that time this day is celebrated as Shivratri.
One more story tells the story of a tribal man who lost in the forest in search of firewood. Because of getting night and afraid of wild animals he climbed on the tree. To avoid sleepiness and fear he kept on chanting the name of Shiva and along with this, he kept plucking and dropping leaves of bell tree, on which he was sitting on. Actually, there was a shiv linga placed under the tree and unwittingly he dropped all leaves on shiv linga. This unwitting worship pleased Shiva so much that he rewarded him with divine blessing.
Anyway, what may be the story lies behind this festival, we can see this day as an announcement of coming up of the spring season. Like a miracle, trees laden with beautiful pink and white flowers as like large bouquets of flowers, soft green grass crowding all around and spring lilies growing up in garden everywhere, cool breezes, and mild temp are all that this festival brings with it. The significance of this festival lies in the fact that this festival brings the people together and helps them realize the divine truth of God.