or Maha Sivaratri
or Shivaratri or Sivarathri (Great Night of Shiva
or Night of Shiva
) is a Hindu
festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha
(waning moon) of the month of Maagha
(as per Shalivahana
or Gujarati Vikrama
) or Phalguna
(as per Vikrama
) in the Hindu Calendar
(that is, the night before and day of the new moon). The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael
(Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva
, all day fasting and an all night long vigil. Per scriptural and discipleship traditions, the penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's summum bonum
steadily and swiftly.
The Legend of Maha Shivaratri states a hunter could not find any animals in the forest to kill for his dinner. He searched all day but had no luck. Eventually he came to a stream where he knew deer often drank in the evening and so he decided to climb a Bael
tree to wait. This tree is a particular favorite with Lord Shiva
and used in traditional medicine.
The hunter pulled leaves from the tree and threw them to the ground, hoping to attract some deer. One deer came. It spoke to the hunter, telling him of his family who would worry when the deer did not return home. The hunter took pity of the deer and kindly let it live.
The hunter resumed throwing leaves from the tree and continued to do so all night. Unknown to the hunter there was a Shiva linga
under the branch he was... Read More