Maha Shivaratri celebrations in India
Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the month of Phalguna. Celebrations are held in Shiva temples all over the country. People fast throughout the day and ritual prayers are conducted in temples at night.
Mahashivratri means the big night dedicated to show respect to Lord Shiva. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated throughout the country with great devotion and faith.
On Mahashivaratri day the shivling is bathed with the five sacred offerings of a cow, called the panchagavya – milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Thereafter the five food items symbolising immortality – milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar – are placed before the linga.
Shivaratri celebrations in all over India:
The Vishwanath Temple at Kashi in Varanasi celebrates the linga and the manifestation of Shiva as the light of supreme wisdom.
In West Bengal, Mahashivaratri is observed almost as a folk festival.
The Sri Kalahastiswara Temple at Kalahasti and the Bhramaramba Malikarjunaswamy Temple at Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh are visited by hundreds of pilgrims during the festival.
In Assam, the Umananda Temple at Peacock Island and the Sukresvara Temple on the banks of the river Brahmaputra become centers of activity on this auspicious day.
In Jammu and Kashmir, the festival is held for 15 days, the thirteenth day being observed as Herath, a day of fast followed by a family feast.
In Ujjain in the famous temple of Mahakaleshwar Shiv’s Lingum is worshipped with the performance of all the religious rites and rituals.
In Karnataka the festival of Maha Shivaratri is observed with pomp and enthusiasm. A grand Sri Shidlingappa’s fair is observed to mark the auspicious occasion. Deity is taken to the river in a palanquin accompanied by drummers (Dollu and Majalu) from several neighboring and is then worshipped.
The Temple of Bhutnath at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh is said to host the biggest Shivaratri Puja in the country. An eight-day-long fair is also organized which witness the participation of artists from India and even beyond.
In the state of Madhya Pradesh Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with religious fervor. As a tradition, people in Madhya Pradesh take a holy dip in Sagar tank in Khajuraho. The place houses a beautiful Shiva temple.
The state of Orissa Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated with devotion and enthusiasm in. Major centres of Shivaratri celebrations in the state are Lingaraj Temple and Hakateswar Temple Atri. Shiva temples located at Mahendragiri, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Bhubaneswar and Khiching also draw a large of pilgrims from across the state.
Shivaratri celebration at Lokanath Temple, Puri is also quite popular. According to a legend popular in Orissa, long ago, Puri was a center of Shiva worship. The story goes, Lord Ramachandra himself installed the Lingam in the Lokanath Temple. This lingam is kept submerged, in a vat of water. It can only be seen on Pankodhar Ekadasi, before Shivaratri, when the water is removed from the vat. On that day, thousands of devotees come for a darshan.
In Bhubaneswar, thousands of devotees thronged the 11th century temple ,LingRaj temple and observed fast and stood in long queues early Friday to offer prayers on the occassion of Mahashivratri.
The Murugeshpalya temple is located about 10 kilometres away from Bangalore city. The temple also has a huge lord Ganesh statue and Navagraha temple inside. Inside, there is a path where Models of Shiva lings different forms, such as linga made of ice is maintained.