Mahashivaratri in Varanasi
Mahashivaratri is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Maagha month that falls either in February or March of the Hindu calendar. It is one of the important Hindu festivals observed worldwide in respect of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe this day as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. There are several other myths and legends associated to this day. Nonetheless, it is celebrated with utmost devotion and gaiety throughout the country. However, the celebration of Mahashivaratri in Varanasi falls in a totally different league. It is grand, grandeur, and massive. The entire city gets soaked in the colours of devotion in admiration of Lord Shiva.
Legends associated with Mahashivaratri
Mahashivaratri is marked with different legends. However, it is most popular as the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. For some, this is an auspicious night when Lord Shiva performed the dance of destruction known as ‘Tandava.’ The legend of the Linga Purana says that on this night, Lord Shiva transformed himself into the Linga form. Whereas another legend believes that on this day, Lord Shiva saved the universe by swallowing the poison that erupted when the gods and demons churned the ocean of milk in order to share the nectar.
Importance of Mahashivaratri
Mahashivaratri is the mostly observed as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Hence, on this day all married women pray to Lord Shiva for a longer life of their husbands. Unmarried women seek blessing of Shiva on this day to get a husband who is as virtuous, courageous, and simpleton as Him. Boys, on the other hand, offer prayers to get a beautiful wife and achieve success in life. Married men also ask Shiva to bless their family with wealth, longer life and prosperity.
Rituals of Mahashivaratri
All followers of Lord Shiva observe fast on this day. They take a bath in the Ganga River early in the morning and visit temples with milk, honey, yogurt, sugar, ghee, bel patra, and Ganga water. Inside the sanctum, they offer a bath to Shivlinga and place bel patra on the top of it. Paste of vermilion is applied on the forehead of Linga. Applying three lines of ashes on the head is also a tradition. The devotees then offer fruits, flowers, and sweets to the Linga.
Maha Shivaratri at Kashi Vishwanath
The temple of kasha Vishwanath which is dedicated to Lord Shiva is a centre of attraction on this day. A big fair is held near the Virla and the old Vishwanath temple. Thousands of devotees gather at the temple to pay their respect. The priests inside the sanctum recite verses from sacred scriptures. The entire environment reverberates from the continuous chants of ‘Om Namah Shiva.’ The marriage procession of Lord Shiva and Parvati is accompanied by thousands of devotees. Devotees dance and sing devotional songs in the procession. It is taken out from Mahamrituyanjaya Temple. From here, the procession march towards Daranagar and to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple.