About Shivaratri:

Maha-Shivratri (Devanagari:महाशिवरात्रि, Tamil:மகா சிவராத்திரி, Telugu:మహాశివరాత్రి),is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. Other alternate common names/spellings include Maha Sivaratri,Shivaratri,Sivarathri,Shivaratra.Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha or Phalguna month of Hindu calendar.Since many different calendars are followed by various ethno-linguistic groups of India, the month and the Tithi name are not uniform all over India. Celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha(waning moon) of the month of Maagha according to the Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama or Phalguna according to the Vikrama era. The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva,all day fasting and an all night long vigil. In accordance with scriptural and discipleship traditions, penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's summum bonum steadily and swiftly. A week long International Mandi Shivratri Fair held at Mandi in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh every year is one of the major tourist attractions in the state.

Rituals of Maha-Shivratri

From the very early morning, Shiva temples are flocked by devotees, mostly women, who come to perform the traditional Shivalinga worship and hence hope for favours from the god. Devotees bathe at sunrise, preferably in the Ganga, or any otherholy water source (like the Shiva Sagartank at Khajurao). This is a purificatory rite, an important part of all Hindu festivals. Wearing a clean piece of clothing after the holy bath, worshippers carry pots of water to the temple to bathe the Shivalinga. They offer prayers to the sun, Vishnu and Shiva.Women pray for the well-being of their husbands and sons. An unmarried woman prays for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal husband. The temple reverberates with the sound of bells and shouts of “Shankerji ki Jai” or 'Hail Shiva'. Devotees circumambulate the linga, three or seven times, and then pour water over it. Some also pour milk.

According to the Shiva Purana, the Mahashivaratri worship must incorporate six items:

Bathing the Shiv Linga with water, milk and honey, and Wood apple or bel leaves added to it, representing purification of the soul;

The vermilion paste applied on the Shiv linga after bathing it, representing virtue;

Offering of fruits, which is conducive to longevity and gratification of desires;

Burning incense, yielding wealth;

The lighting of the lamp which is conducive to the attainment of knowledge;

And betel leaves marking satisfaction with worldly pleasures.

Tripundra refers to the three horizontal stripes of holy ash applied to the forehead by worshippers of Lord Shiva. These stripes symbolise spiritual knowledge, purity and penance (spiritual practice of Yoga), so also they represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva.

Wearing a rosary made from the rudraksha seed of the rudraksha tree (said to have sprung from the tears of Lord Shiva) when worshipping Lord Shiva is ideal. A rudraksha seed is a mahogany-like color, sometimes black, and sometimes may have traces of sacred sandalwood powder, turmeric, kumkum, or holy ash if the rosary was used in worship ceremonies or anointed.

Shivaratri in India

Mahashivaratri in Southern India

Mahashivaratri is celebrated widely in the temples all over Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Shiva is considered the Adi (first) Guru from whom the yogic tradition originates. According to tradition, the planetary positions on this night are such that there is a powerful natural upsurge of energy in the human system. It is said to be beneficial for one's physical and spiritual wellbeing to stay awake and aware throughout the night.On this day, artists from various fields such as music and dance perform the whole night.

Sahasrakalasabishekam

This is a very special and rare puja conducted during 10 days of Mahasivarathri festival. It is well known that Lord Siva is abhishekapriya (lover of ablutions). Lord Parasurama and Kroshta Muni, during their worship of the Lord here, are believed to have bathed the deity with Sahasrakalasam or a thousand pots of holy water according to Vedic rites. Now during Mahasivarathri festival days the Head Priest (Thanthri) and his team perform this puja. It is a ten day function, each day an offering of 101 Kalasam or pots of holy water (100 being made of silver, while one is made of gold), surcharged with mantras recited by learned Brahmins seated on the Mukhamantapam. These are emptied on the deity, the golden pot Brahmakalasam being the last one. A magnificent light is the indication or identity of Lord Shiva and the Shiva Lingam is considered to be the symbol of it. Hence, the formal worship on Maha Shivaratri consists of bathing the Shiva Lingam. Lord Shiva is said to be burning with the fire of austerity and so only those items are offered to Him that have a cooling effect. A cool water bath is believed to propitiate Him best. There is a belief among devotees that participation in Sahasrakalasam and offering holy worship materials, will lead to blessings with prosperity and peaceful life. Hundreds of devotees thronging the shrine with chants of “Namah Shivaya”, “Hara hara Mahadeva”, and “Sambho Mahadeva”. This year Mahasivarathiri is observed on 2 March 2011 in all of South India's temples.

Sivarathri Nrutham

Sivarathri Nrutham at Thrikkuratti temple, according to religious scholars, resembles the cosmic dance of Shiva, called ‘Anandatandava,' meaning, ‘the Dance of Bliss’ symbolizing the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction, as well as the daily rhythm of birth and death. The dance is a pictorial allegory of the five principle manifestations of eternal energy - creation, destruction, preservation, salvation, and illusion.

The Priest keeps sheeveli vigraha (idol) fixed on decorated frame on his head. He makes seven rounds on Pradakshina Vazhi (holy walkway made of granite around Sanctum Santorum). When the fifth round is reached at the west nada (Parvathi nada), the door opens for just 10 minutes. This is an annual ceremony. Thousands of Pilgims rush to have a glance of this auspicious moment. At this time all the pradakshina vazhi will be lit with camphor and brass temple lamps by thousands of devotes who stay awake through the night while chanting “Nama Sivaya”, “Hara Hara Mahadeva” and “Sambho Mahadeva”. Older devotees sing “Hara sankara siva sankara duritham kala sivane”. In this enlightened serene mood, the Priest performs Nrutham and runs the pradakshina vazhi towards the east nada. During the next two rounds he accepts “Valiya kanikka”. The Sivarathri Nrutham is followed by the well known magnificent display of fireworks.

Mahasivarathri Procession

On Sivarathri day evening a grand procession starts from Kadapra Kainikkara Temple. It includes, several decorated floats, Kaavadi Aaatam, Mayilattom, Amman Kudom, Thaiyyam, Vela Kali, Kuthiyotta Chuvadu, richly caparisoned elephants and folk art forms etc. attracts thousands of devotees and tourists. When the main procession reaches Market Junction, other mini processions from Kurattikkadu Mutharamman Temple, Kurattissery Kannamkavil Mutharamman Temple, Thrippavoor Mahavishnu Temple, Vishavarsherikkara Subrahmanya Swami temple and Alumoodu Sivaparvathy Temple joins and makes the procession quite livening. The marvellous as well as magical effect of the Sinakari melam and Panchavadyam, a combination of five percussion and wind instruments is to be felt and enjoyed. Among the varieties of festivals celebrated in Kerala, Thrikkuratti Sivarathri Procession is one of the most thunderous, spectacular and dazzling. It is an expression of popular fascination for sound and colour, and because of the pageantry, it appeals to all people including foreigners. Once the procession reaches the temple, Deeparadhana is followed by colourful display of fireworks.

Panchaakshari

Shiva, as the god of destroying evil, is the third among the divine trinity of Hindu mythology. The holy mantra consisting of five-syllables: "Na" "Ma" "Shi" "Vaa" "Ya" (Om NamaH Shivaaya) in praise of Lord Shiva is chanted incessantly on special occasions like Shivaratri. His thousands of names, each of which describe His greatness, may also be chanted. Shiva means "auspicious". As Shankara, He is the giver of happiness to all. Nataraja (the king of dancers) is a favourite form adored by dancers and musicians.

Rudrabhisheka

There is a special mantra in the Vedas (the most ancient scripture in the history of human race and which forms the fountain-head of the Hindu culture) - Rudra Sukta - which is recited by pundits while they offer a holy bath to Lord Shiva by way of washing a Shiva-linga or a Shaligrama which are the symbols of god with the waters of sacred rivers like the Ganges. This ritual is known as "Rudrabhisheka". A Shaligrama constitutes a sacred pebble that often conceals ammonite fossils within. Such precious stones are brought from the river Gandaki at the frozen summits of the Himalayas.

Washing the Shaligrama as a part of Shiva-puja symbolises the removal of impurities from our mind. It also means washing off false ego. Unless we attain self-realization, we all become the victims of a false-self or an ego. False-self is due to an illusion (or ignorance), a covering upon our real soul, of our mind, which then acts from mistaken identity. According to Vedanta (philosophical doctrines), this accumulation of false-self upon our real Self is often the root cause of our bondage and sufferings in life. This notion of purification (of Shaligram stone by holy waters) also symbolises at the philosophical level, the eradication of the accumulated material interests (of us) which often blur the inherent spiritual hard core or Reality.

Mysticism

According to the mystic mythology of the Puraanaas, the Kailasa peak of the Himalayas is the abode of Shiva and He bears the Ganges on His head. As the Lord of creatures, He is metaphorically called as Pashupathi (with Nandi, the bull, His favourite animal) and His fearful nature is euphemised as Sarpabhushana. Shiva's posture in the meditation is ascribed to Him as the head of Yogis (Yogiraja) who practises various spiritual feats to attain salvation. Lord Shiva's divine consort, Goddess Parvati (who is also the daughter of Himalaya), is the deity of strength. Numerous stories in mythology describe the births of their two sons - Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya (or Guha or Shanmukha or Skanda or Murugha) and their various significances.

Mrtyunjaya Mahaa Mantra

The Mrtyunjaya-maha-mantra, which is found in the Rudram, is said to eradicate diseases, pain, sufferings and death:

Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe SugandhiM Pushti-vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan- Mrityor-muksheeyamaamRtaat - Om (for chanting Purpose only)

Om. O three-eyed one (Lord Shiva), we worship you, the One of sublime fragrance who is the source of all vitality, growth and splendour. Just as a ripe cucumber is plucked from its vine, May we transcend death and gain Immortality.

A procedure, Trayambak Homa, is associated with this. It consists of an offering of drops of cow ghee on a fire, in a havan kund (sacrificial fire-pot), that uses ghee soaked cow dung as fuel. During this procedure, a prayer is said, a swaha:

Swaha Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe SugandhiM Pushti-vardhanam Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaan- Mrityor-muksheeyamaamRtaat - swaha

Major Shiva Temples in Uttara Kannada District:

  1. Madhukeshwara Temple- Banavasi
  2. Mahabaleshwara Temple-Gokarna
  3. Sajjeshwara Temple- Karwar
  4. Dhareshwara Temple- Dhareshwara (Kumata)
  5. Gunavanteshwara Temple- Gunavante (Honnavar)
  6. Murudeshwara Temple- Murudeshwara (Bhatkal)
  7. Bhairaveshwara Temple-Yana (Kumata)
  8. Panchalingeshwara Temple-Panchalinga (Sirsi)
  9. Devarahole (Sirsi)
  10. Sahasralinga-Sirsi
  11. Triyambakeshwara Temple-Sirsi
  12. Shankaralinga-Sirsi
  13. Bangareshwara Temple-Gudnapur
  14. Kavaleshwara Temple-Kavala Caves (Dandeli)
  15. Channabasaveshwara Temple-Ulavi

Note: To know the information about these places see in this blog only.

Information Courtesy: Wikipedia & Shriharsha.B.S.

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