Mahashivaratri Festival The festival of Mahashivratri is looked upon with greatest reverence & respect by the devotees of Lord Shiva. This festival is celebrated every year on the 14<SUP>th</SUP> day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalgun. As per the English calendar this is somewhere around Feb or March. ……… This day and more so the night is dedicated by the devotees of Lord Shiva for his worship, practice of various austerities & meditation. All the Shiva <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 /><st1lace w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Temples</st1:city></st1lace> are fully decorated and there are hordes of devotees queuing up to get darshan of Lord & offer their obeisance's at the feet of Lord Shiva on this special day. The Significance of Mahashivratri : ……… There are three stories which are associated with this special day: Once Parvatiji asked Lord Shiva as to which Vrata was the best in terms of giving maximum punyas & his bhakti. So Lord Shiva himself revealed about this auspicious day. On this day manifested the great & also the first ever effulgent (Jyotirmaya) form (Anala-skanda or a pillar of fire) of Lord Shiva in front of Lord Vishnu & Brahmaji. The story goes that once both Vishnuji & Brahmaji, who were both doing great jobs, got infected by a bit of ego. The result was an clash between both these gods. In order to show their respective importance & superiority they decided to fight it out. Lord Shiva decided to intervene so as to make them realise that there is something more to life than the powers of an embodied beings. He manifested in the form of a huge pillar of fire whose top & bottom end could not be seen. Vishnuji & Brahmaji decided to check what this strange thing was. While Vishnuji went down towards patal-loka to see the end of this pillar, Brahmaji sitting on his swan went up. Even after years of travel they could not see the beginning or the end of this manifestation. They came back, mellowed down, realizing once again the limitations of an embodiment. Once they surrendered, then Lord Shiva gave darshan to them and set things in order once again. This blessed manifestation is said to have been on the day of Mahashivratri. On this day there was also supposed to have been the marriage of Lord Shiva with Adi Shakti. There is also a famous story of a hunter, who one day got delayed in the forest, and therefore decided to remain perched on a tree throughout the night, so as to avoid any predators who prowl on the ground in the night. In order to remain awake, he kept on plucking a leaf and threw them on the ground. As it happened there was a Shiv-linga below that tree, and it was this particular day too. Lord Shiva became very happy even with such inadvertent worship, and blessed the person with all what he wished for. This story not only shows how easily Lord Shiva is propitiated, but also reveals the great importance of worship of Lord on this particular day. How to Celebrate? ……… The devotees of Lord Shiva should preferably do the following things on this day. 1. Observe fast on this day, taking only fruits & milk. 2. Perform elaborate puja of Lord Shiva, and perform Rudrabhisheka. Chant various hymns & bhajan of Lord Shiva. 3. Chant the mantra ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ as many times as you can. 4.[font="] [/font]Practice Dhyana for longer periods than the usual routine. 5.[font="] [/font]Remain more introvert on this day contemplating about the truths of life. 6.[font="] [/font]Do for darshan of Lord Shiva where he is properly & regularly worshipped. 7.[font="] [/font]Try to get darshan & satsang of some learned Mahatmas. Offer sewa at Ashrams & Temples.