On Maha Shivaratri, the typically quiet temple complex becomes a destination of much celebration, as Hindus from around the district arrive to worship Lord Shiva. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Dates vary by region. A member of the divine Hindu Trinity, Lord Shiva is associated with a multitude of legends and is held in regard as the ideal husband.
Hindu tradition tells that Lord Shiva generates, sustains and dispels the universe in infinite cycles, and that on this holy day, the deity performed the Tandava—the cosmic dance of creation, preservation and destruction. Maha Shivaratri is the principal festival for Lord Shiva. As Maha Shivaratri is celebrated across India, Nepal, Trinidad, Tobago and other parts of the world, legend tells that Lord Shiva and his consort, Parvati, were married on this day.
Many married women pray for their own husbands today, and single women pray that they will find a husband like Lord Shiva. Another legend tells that Lord Shiva manifested in the form of a Linga on Maha Shivaratri, and thus the day is considered especially auspicious. On most holy days, Hindus practice yoga and meditation, and on the night of Maha Shivaratri, many devotees meditate or sing devotional songs throughout the night.
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During much of the day, temples are visited and holy ash from sacred fires is worn on the foreheads of Shiva devotees. Statues of Lord Shiva are bathed in milk, honey and water, and bilva , or bael , leaves are offered to the supreme deity. The ideal marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati is recognized with fervor on Mahashivaratri. Photo by Vinoth Chandar, courtesy of Flickr. A member of the Hindu Trinity, Lord Shiva is associated with several legends and renowned as the model of an ideal husband.
After a full day of visiting temples, performing ritual baths for figures of Lord Shiva and fasting, Hindus begin a vigil that lasts the entire night. Many stories are shared as this holiday is celebrated by Hindus in India, Nepal, Trinidad, Tobago and other parts of the world. As the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvatai is regarded as ideal, married women pray for the well being of their husbands and single women pray that they will find a husband like Shiva. Learn more from the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India. After waking early for a ritual bath, Hindus begin the day by visiting the temple.
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At the temple, Hindus pray, make offerings and bathe figures of Shiva in milk, honey or water. Many devotees either fast or partake in only milk and fruit throughout the day. As evening falls, the worship continues, and hymns and devotional songs are sung to Shiva throughout the night. Wikipedia has details.
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They are completely different but connected in their underlying meaning and connection to Lord Shiva. In Sanskrit, Linga means a "mark" or a symbol, which points to an inference. Shiva Linga speaks to the Hindu devotee in the unmistakable language of silence. It is only the outward symbol of the formless being, Lord Shiva, who is the undying soul seated in the chambers of your heart.
He is your in-dweller, your innermost self or Atman , and he is also identical with the supreme Brahman. The ancient Hindu scripture "Linga Purana" says that the foremost Linga is devoid of smell, color, taste, etc. In the post-Vedic period, the Linga became symbolical of the generative power of Lord Shiva.
The Linga is like an egg and represents the Brahmanda the cosmic egg. Linga signifies that the creation is affected by the union of Prakriti and Purusha , the male and the female powers of Nature.
A Shiva Linga consists of three parts. The lowest of these is called the Brahma-Pitha ; the middle one, the Vishnu-Pitha ; the uppermost one, the Shiva-Pitha. The typically circular base or peetham Brahma-Pitha holds an elongated bowl-like structure Vishnu-Pitha reminiscent of a flat teapot with a spout that has had the top cut off.
Within the bowl rests a tall cylinder with a rounded head Shiva-Pitha. It is in this portion of the Shiva Linga that many people see a phallus. The Shiva Linga is most often carved from stone. Many are adorned with traditional symbols or elaborate carvings, though some are somewhat industrial looking or relatively plain and simple.
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