Indian Festivals Essay No.
Hindu Every night of the new moon is dedicated to Shiva, but this moonless night in February is particularly important since it is the night on which Shiva is said to perform the cosmic dance, the Tandava Nritya, the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
Many Hindus and all devotees of Shiva fast throughout the festival. All-night prayers focus on Shiva and his shrines and statues, where milk, water and honey are regularly poured on his symbol, the lingam, which is decorated with flowers and garlands. The festival is observed for one day and one night only.
Pujas conducted in Shaivite temples during the previous day also have significance. This is because the rituals are conducted strictly in accordance with the method prescribed in the Shiva Purana, a Hindu epic.
According to this Purana, pujas should be conducted once in every three hours on Mahashivaratri. According to Hindu mythology Lord Shiva declared that the rituals performed by his devotees on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalgun please him the most. Therefore, year by year, the day is observed as Mahashivratri, and devotees observe the fast, sing songs and bhajans and offer prayers to the Almighty to seek his blessings.
To this end jujube fruits, stalks of Bilwa leaves, coconuts, flowers and garlands are offered to the Shiva lingam by the devotees at the shrine.
At home, they may perform the Mahashivratri Puja by taking a holy bath in warm water early in the morning, wearing new clothes and then smearing bhasm holy ash on their forehead.
Mahashivaratri is especially important for women, both married and unmarried, who perform Shiva puja and observe the fast with great devotion and sincerity. This is predominantly done to appease Shiva along with his consort, the goddess Parvati, who is often called Ma Gauri. It is believed that Ma Gauri bestows marital bliss on women yet to be married and blesses the married with a healthy and blissful married life.
Young girls observe the fast and worship Shiva so that he may bless them with good husbands.
They sing devotional songs in praise of the lord, and holy texts are chanted throughout the night. The festival also celebrates the wedding of Shiva and Sati, the divine mother. It is believed that devotion to Shiva on Mahashivaratri will free devotees from their past sins and those who pledge themselves to him on this occasion will be liberated from the cycle of birth and death and so attain moksha or salvation.
The devotees of Shiva therefore flock to the temples on this day to offer their prayers.RELIGIOUS STATUARY and WALL PLAQUES. For our Religious friends who use Catholic Saint, Buddhist, and Hindu Deity imagery as an adjunct to candle-burning, prayer, Santeria, tantra puja, spell-work, rituals, and folk-magic, we offer the following popular subjects.
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