Mahashivaratri, celebrated in March, is about worshipping Lord Shiva, whose appeal is strong and persistent in equal measure among all sections of the society. This year (2022) Mahashivaratri will be observed on March 1 across the country. The celebrations will start early on March 1 and conclude with a holy dip the next day (March 2).
Most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the daytime but Shivaratri is all about keeping a night-long vigil as it’s believed that Lord Shiva saved the universe from darkness and ignorance.
In Karnataka, the government allowed the respective district administrations to take a decision on the scale of celebrations. As the Covid 19 third wave is fast declining, the devotees are all set to throng the major Shiva temples of the state.
The 14th day of every month (Krishna Chaturdasi) is called Shivaratri, but the one in the month of Magha is called Mahashivaratri as it is considered to be the greatest of all. On this day, Lord Shiva drank poison (haalahala) produced by the churning of the ocean of milk and, by doing so, saved the universe.
Also on this day, he married Goddesses Parvathi and performed Shiva Tandava Nritya, which is recorded in the Natyashastra.
The main themes of this festival are ahimsa, satya, compassion and forgiveness. Following these principles, as also fasting and jagrana (keeping vigil in the night) are the main features of this festival.
On this day, the Linga, which signifies Lord Shiva, is bathed in panchamrutha (a mixture of milk, curds, ghee, sugar and honey) and worshipped amidst vedic hymns (chanting of rudra mantra), bael leaves (bhilwapatre) and flowers. The next morning, the fast is broken.
The festival is observed by practising Ahimsa, Satya, Compassion, Forgiveness and the absence of jealousy. A day long (sunrise to sunrise) fast and “Jaagran” (all night vigil) are other features of Maha Shivaratri.
On this day, devotees perform rudrahoma (rudrayaga) at temples and homes. People prepare delicious food items as naivedya to Lord Shiva. By worshipping the Lord, one can attain peace and prosperity, for he forgives the sins we commit in our life.
On Shivaratri, Lord Shiva drank poison (haalahala) produced by the churning of the ocean of milk and, by doing so, saved the universe.
How do devotees celebrate Shivaratri?
Karnataka is known for several Lord Shiva temples. Among them, famous temples are
- Shri Lord Manjunatheshwara temple, Dharmastala
- Shri Mahabaleshwara temple in Gokarna
- Sri Srikanteshwaraswamy Temple, Nanjangud near Mysuru
- Sri Malai Mahadeshwara Swamy Temple, MM Hills, in Chamarajanagar
- Kotilingeshwara temple in Kolar, Siddalinga mutt, Suttur mutt, etc.
Shri Kshetra Dharmastala, in Dharmastala of Dakshina Kannada district, is gearing up for the celebrations. One of the unique features of the celebrations is every year thousands of devotees from across the state reach this holy temple on the banks of the river Netravati by walk (padayatra). Many devotees observe this as a Seva (offering) to the Lord Shri Manjunatheshwara, presiding deity of the temple.
After reaching the Dharmastala, devotees visit the Netravati snanaghatta (bath ghat) and take a holy dip. Later they arrive at the temple and take darshan. There will be Jagarane (no sleep in the night) and devotees keep chanting Om Namah Shivaya. Special pujas to be held as part of the celebrations.
Gokarna Shri Mahabaleshwara temple: This temple is on the beach of the Arabian sea in Uttara Kannada district. This temple is known for the Athma Linga of Lord Shiva. The devotees are allowed to offer puja directly to the Linga. As part of the Shivaratri, Maharathostva will be held. The Shivaratri celebrations will be observed for eight days in the temple.
Nanjangud temple, Mysuru: In Nanjangud temple, the devotees celebrate the Shivatrari by offering special pujas to the presiding dieity of the temple Srikanteshwaraswamy. They take the darshan of the deity after a holy dip in the river Kapila which flows in front of the temple. As part of the celebrations, special cultural events will also be held in the temple all the night on March 1 to enable the devotees to observe the Jagarane.
MM Hills temple: Sri Malai Mahadeshwara Swamy Temple, MM Hills, in Chamarajanagar is also known for the Shivaratri celebrations. However, this year, there will not be any major events to mark the festival due to the Covid 19 related guidelines. The dasoha and darshan will end at 10 pm. For the Maharathotsava of March 3, only 1,000 passes will be issued.
According to the officials, the devotees already started reaching the temple by walk from various parts of the South India. These devotees reach the temple by walking inside the dense forests of the MM Hills.