Article By: Nishanth Raj M
Mangalore, Feb 12: Mahashivaratri Festival or the ‘The Night of Shiva’ is celebrated with devotion and religious fervor in honour of Lord Shiva, one of the deities of Hindu Trinity. This auspicious night ‘Shivarathri’, the devotees are expected to stay awake, chanting sacred name and hymns of Lord Shiva.
It is a very auspicious day, not only for Hindus but also the people from different communities, who participate in the religious function organized by the devotees of Shiva in different places. The method of worshipping the God varies from place to place. People worship the God with many names like Kalabhairawa, Bolenath, Shiva, Durgaparameshwara, Panchalingeshwara, Neelakanta, Somanatha etc.
As we read the Indian mythology, it is the fourteenth day of the lunar fortnight, when the moon is waning and the sun is in the sign of Aquarius. However, the festival is related to the moon rather than the sun. Unlike other nights, this particular night is the night of consecration, of dedication, of illumination.
There are many stories behind Maha Shivarathri. Some devotees believe that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati on the auspicious day. The other incident describes the churning of Ocean ‘Sagaramathanam’ by Devas and Asuras. During which they enjoyed Parijatha, Kalpavriksha (Tree bestows the boons), Kamadhenu (Cow bestows the boons) and Amritha (Nectar). However, when the vicious poison “Kalakoota” emerged, a panic was erupted among them and nobody could combat with it. As Devagana fell into trouble and they sought help from Lord Shiva, who, emerged to help the world and swallowed the poison. But, before poison spreads whole body, Goddess Parvati held his throat to save him. Lord Shiva neither swallowed nor spat out the poison as he held it in his neck and became Neelakanta (Blue neck). If Shiva goes on sleep, the poison covers his body. To make vigil Lord Shiva whole night, Shiva Gana and Deva Gana started to chant his name, through out night. Since then, Lord Shiva was renowned as Neelakanta.
During the sacred day, Devotees spend their time by following vrata. They think that vrata which takes on the auspicious day will help to develop their wealth, good education for students, and to lead a good life. Though many go on a diet of fruits and milk, some of the devotees offer the prayer, early morning till late night, without taking a single drop of water.
In temples, priests perform ritual pooja for every three hours. They offer ritual pooja to sacred Shivalingam by pouring milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar, tender coconut, and water amidst the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya” The poojari (priests) also adorn the lingam with flower and Bilva pathre(leaf of Bel tree). This pooja continues nightlong and the devotees vigil nightlong to mark the Maha Shivarathri.
On the eve of Shivarathri, temples of Mangalore embellishes with lights and flowers to celebrate the Shiva Rathri. The devotees from the city and and also from neighbor district and state will come in crowd to offer prayer and puja’s at Gokarnatheshwara temple at Kudroli, Manjunatha temple at Kadri, Panchalingeshwara temple at Urwa, Mahalingeshwara at Kavoor and Pandeshwara, Somanathewshwara temple at Someshwara, Ullal and Panchalingeshwara temple at Bajal.