Posted by Champaklal Dajibhai Mistry on February 21, 2001

Wednesday February 21, 2001 is Maha-shiv-ratri day this year. This day in Vedic calendar is Mahaa vad chuaudas (14th day of waning fortnight of the month of Mahaa or Maagh). This day is for propitiating Shiv Bhagvan who is one of the trinity of Devo first created by Brhmah in the begining of each creation cycle of 4.32 billion years. The other two devo are Brhmaa-dev and Vishnu-dev. This trinity, between them creates, maintains and dissolves the creation in each cycle of 4.32 billion years of creation followed by 4.32 billion years of dormancy of creation after dissolution in Brahmaa.

The Shiv-ratri night is for doing prayaschataap (penance) for all the adharmic karma done by a person in his or her life and also for getting blessings for fullfillment of life desires by fasting and not sleeping for the night and thus propitiating Shiv-dev. Shiv-ratri day, the 14th night of vad of the month of Chaitra was declared a holy day by Shiv-dev after the following incident described in Kannashsha Ramayan as Puranic story: Brhamaa, after being born from the lotus in the navel of Maha-Vishnu when Brhmah initiated the creation cycle, was trying to find the source of the lotus. Seeing only what was visible at that time which was Maha-Visnnu who told Brhamaa that he was his father, Brhamaa started a quarrel with Maha-Visnu which ended up in a fight. Brhmaa shot Brhmaa-stra (energy missile made with the shakti of Brhmaa) which was countered by Maha-Vishnu by his own engery missile known as Paasupataa-stra. As both missiles were of equal strength they kept on chasing each other around the world. Although a stalemate, none of them could withdraw his own missile without accomplishing the purpose of its issue. This created a grave danger to the entire creation. Shiv-dev put Shiv-linga between the two and then appeared in person and withdrew the missiles. The appearance of Shiv at this incident was on Chaturdasi (14th) day of the month of Chaitra. And as enjoined by Shiv-dev it is called Shiv-ratri and celebrated as a sacred day.

Maha-Shiv-ratri day has a number of devotional meanings for Vedic Shiv-bakto.

It is a belief of Vedic Shiv-bhakto that on this day Shiv-dev and Parvati-devi travel on the bullock Nandini, their vehicle, around the world for 24 hours. There are many legends attached to this day about how Shiv-dev and Parvati-devi bestowed their graces on their bhakto on this day by their show of some kind of simple devotion.

It is also a day symbolizing the wedding of Shiv-dev and Parvati-devi.

On this day the married women perform puja to propitiate Shiv-dev and Parvati-devi for a grace of bliss and prosperity in marriage. The unmarried girls and women perform puja to propitiate Shiv-dev and Parvati-devi to bless them with husbands with wealth, knowledge and talent. The puja is mainly performed at a mandir. Vrat (fasting) is also done by the bhakto for 36 hours taking only the phalar which is the main meal. Phalar consists of no-cereal foods prepared without garlic, onion, haldi but with jeera, salt a little chilli. Fruits, mithai (sweets) made from milk and curd is also allowed in Phalar. Tea, coffee and milk is allowed but in a very limited quantity. No meal is taken at night and the next meal after phalar is in the morning of Amaavas (last day of the month). The actual celebration takes place on the Shiv-ratri (night) with four puja of the Shiv-linga during the night and lasts till next morning. Shiv bhkto are also allowed to drink bhang which is a milk drink prepared with marijuana by the priests in the mandir.

Maha-shiv-ratri is the most revered celebration of Kashmiri pandits who have this celebration during the whole waning 15 dyas of the month of Chaitra and is treated like Diwali celebration. Gambling for the entire sixteen days period is a characteristic of this festival.

In Bharat Maah-Shiv-ratri is in the season Shishir (cool). As per Vedic time science a year has six seasons of two months each. The six seasons in Vedic year are Vasant(spring) in the month of Chaitra and Vaishakh, Grishma (summer) in the months of Jyeshtha and Ashadh, Varsha (Rainy) in the months of Shravan and Bhadarva, Sharad (autumn) in the months of Aaso and Kartik and, Hemant (winter) in the months of Magshar and Posh and Shishir(Cool) in the months of Maagh and Phalgun.

Maha or Maagh is the 11th month in Vedic calendar adopted by Bharat Government in 1957. The first month in this Bharatiya calendar is Chaitra.

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