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Why mahashivratri is celebrated at night in India

MahaShivaratri story in English | What is the story behind MahaShivratri

Why mahashivratri is celebrated at night in India
Why mahashivratri is celebrated


MahaShivratri is a Hindu festival, celebrated annually in honor of lord shiva, the god of destruction. Shivratri is celebrated in every month of the lunisolar calendar by the Hindu calendar but once a year, in late winter Maha Shivratri is celebrated to commemorate the oncoming summer.

Maha Shivratri translates as 'the great night of Lord Shiva' and according to legend, it is on this night that Lord Shiva performs his heavenly dance or 'Tandav' representing creation, preservation, and destruction. As per many, it is also the day when Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati got married thus the union of Prakriti and Purusha for the well-being of the world.

Why mahashivratri is celebrated

Devi Sati was the daughter of the great king and son of Lord Bramha- Prajapati Daksha. Mata Sati being an incarnation of Shakti was destined to unite with Lord Shiva for the welfare of the universe. However, Daksha did not want his daughter Sati to marry Lord Shiva as he considered Shiva to be a dirty ascetic, unworthy of being a god or being married to his daughter from a noble family.

Devi Sati however, disobeyed her father and married Lord Shiva. After her marriage, she moved to her husband's abode the Kailash mountain. Once Prajapati Daksha organized a sacrificial ceremony also known as a Yagya and invited all gods and devas to attend his grand Yagya. Due to his hatred towards Lord Shiva, he did not invite both Shiva and his daughter Sati to the Yagya. When Sati came to hear of the Yagya being organized by her father through Narad Muni, she longed to go home and attend it. Lord Shiva was tried to talk her out of the idea, trying to explain that had not been invited and it was obvious that the king did not want them there. But Sati ignored her husband's advice and went to the Yagya by herself.


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Upon reaching she felt deeply saddened to see that no one except her mother Prasuti was delighted to see her, not even her father Daksha, she realized that she was now unwelcomed in her own house. Daksha was furious by her uninvited arrival and humiliated her and mocked Shiva, Daksha began insulting Lord Shiva in front of all his guests and Devi Sati could not bear any insults towards her husband, wanting to break all ties with her father and uphold the honor of her husband, Devi Sati self-immolated herself.

Deeply hurt by the loss of his beloved wife, Lord Shiva performed the destructive Tandava dance. He created two ferocious creatures Virbhadra and Bhadrakali, who wreaked mayhem at the sacrificial place. Nearly all those present were felled overnight, Daksha was decapitated by Veerbhadra. After that night Lord Shiva who is considered the all-forgiving restored all those who were slain to life and granted them his blessings. Daksha was also restored both to life and to kingship; his severed head was substituted for that of a goat.

After the death of his first wife Devi Sati, Lord Shiva withdrew from society and engrossed himself in deep meditation. Taking advantage of the situation, the Asuras or demon king Tarakasura secured from the God Bramha the boon that he could be killed only by the son of Lord Shiva. Believing himself effectively immortal Tarakasura terrorized the beings of the universe and defeated the gods. Meanwhile, Mata Pravati the reincarnation of Devi Sati was born to Himavan, the god of the Himalayas, and his wife Mena.

When Mata Parvati grew up, sage Narada told her that she was born to marry Lord Shiva but she would have to follow the path of penance to please Shiva as he had withdrawn himself from worldly affairs. Determined to marry Lord Shiva in her new birth as well, Mata Parvati embarked upon an extremely difficult regime of penance and devotion. For thousands of years, she only ate fruits and flowers. Thereafter, for hundreds of years, she only fell leaves, eventually giving up on all food and living on air to survive.

Due to thousands of years of severe penance, her body became extremely weak and fragile, the news of her penance spread all over the world. In the end, Lord Bramha appeared in front of Parvati and told her that no one in the entire universe had observed or done Tapasya or penance the way she did not even Lord Shiva. He blessed her to soon be married to Lord Shiva and gave her the name 'Bramhacharini' for her immense determination and penance. Maa Bramhacharini is also the second form of Ma Durga celebrated on the second day of Navaratri.

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On the other hand in desperate need of help from Shiva to have his child who could bring an end to Tarakasura, the gods sent Kamadeva the god of love to disturb Shiva's meditation. Though Shiva was awakened by Kamadev's arrow, Kamadeva was burnt up by Shiva's anger. Implored by the other gods to marry, Shiva agreed but decided to test Maa Parvati's devotion first. Lord Shiva disguised himself as a hermit and reached the place where Parvati was engrossed in her penance. Upon being there, he began criticizing Shiva. He tried to influence Maa Parvati into giving up her Tapasya for Shiva whom he said was an embodiment of inauspiciousness, who carries skulls in his hand and who lives in a crematorium. Maa Parvati angry by the comments of the hermit asks him to leave her alone.

Even upon many attempts at changing her mind, Mata Parvati did not get affected. Her unwavering sense of devotion pleased Lord Shiva and he appeared in his original form and was blessed to be married to him. On the day of marriage, Lord Shiva reaches King Himavan's palace in the most terrorizing form along with the strangest marriage procession also known as Baraat. His body was covered with snakes, smeared in ashes and his hair was matted with unkempt locks. His marriage procession consisted of ghosts, ascetics, sages, aghories, etc.

Upon seeing the terrorizing form of Lord Shiva, Paravati's mother and other relatives were left in a state of shock. Most of them fainted out of fear and terror. To avoid any embarrassment to her family or her husband Lord Shiva, Mata Parvati transformed herself into a different form as well. In this form, she was golden, possessed ten arms, and was called Chanraghanta. In the form of Chandraghanta, she prayed and persuaded Shiva to take the form of a handsome prince and also turn his marriage procession nobler, so the people can see their gentler side and not be fearful of them.

Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati got married in their beautiful divine forms and the day of their marriage is celebrated as MahaShivratri every year. Skanda Purana also narrates the story that when the divine wedding of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati took place in the Himalayas, all the living beings on earth headed the north towards the great White Mountain to witness the grand wedding, because of that earth began losing her balance.

So Lord Shiva asked sage Agastya to go to the south to balance the earth's equilibrium. Agastya was pleased with this signal honor but was also saddened because then he won't be able to witness this divine wedding. Perceiving the thoughts in the Rishi's mind, Lord Shiva granted him a boon that he and Mata Parvati would appear before Agatsya, whenever the latter happened to think of them. Pleased with a boon, Agatsya began his southward journey.

This is the reason that in India, celebrating MahaShivratri festival once a year.


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