Mahashivratri : The Origin and the History behind it ?

05:11:00

India is a country of traditions and rituals. Tomorrow 4th March 2019 India celebrates Mahashivratri in a huge way. Millins fast, visit temples and dedicate their day to Lord Shiva, the Indian god. But what exactly is Mahashivratri and why is it celebrated across India?
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As per one of Indian purana, a pot of poison had emerged during the infamous Samudra Manthan. This poison had the power to destroy the entire planet and so everyone seeked Lord Shiva's help. To ensure the poison doesn't create a havoc, Lord Shiva is said to have swollowed all of the poison which made his throat turn blue. This was also the reason he was given the name "Neelkantha". Shivratri celebrates this event by which Shiva saved the entire planet by himself drinking the pot full of poison.

Another of the puranas have a different explanation. Accordingly, Lord Bramha and Vishnu were once fighting over their importance. The fight escalated so badly that all gods seeked Lord Shiva's help to stop the ugly battle. Shiva then took the forn of a huge fire column and stood between them. They both decided to find the end of this massive column to prove their superiority.
Brahma took the form of a swan and went upwards and Vishnu took the form of a Varaha  and went into the earth. They couldn't find each other. When Brahma was coming up he came across a beautiful Ketki flower. She told Brahma that she was an offering on top of the fire column. Not being able to find the end, Bramha took the flower as witness and did not go any further. Lord Shiva was furious on this and also punished Bramha for telling a lie. He ordered that from that day onwards no one shall ever pray to him and the Ketaki flower will never be used as an offering ever. On this day, Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of Linga and this day is celebrated as Mahashivratri.  
 
But what is the reason behind a Jaagran on Mahashivtari night? Legend and folk stories say that there was a man who had gone into a forest to collect wood and had lost his way out. Animals started scaring him in the darkness of the night and he climbed up a tree to seek protection until dawn. He was afraid that he would fall asleep and fall down from the branch so he decided to pluck a leaf and dropped it down after chanting "Shiva". He plucked thousands of leaves overnight and to his amusement there was a Shivling alongside the tree on which all leaves were falling. The tree was Bel (wood apple) tree. Lord Shiva was extremely plessed with this overnight prayers and dedication and rewarded him divine bliss. So all Shiv devotees chant "Shiva" throughout the night and then observe fast the other day and distribute prasad.

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