3 states declare school holiday on Maha Shivratri: Here are the legends associated with this festival that students must know about – Times of India | IIT EXPERT



Today, March 8, is celebrated as Maha Shivratri, and several states, including Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Punjab, have declared it a public holiday. As a result, schools educational institutions in these states are closed for the day. With tomorrow being the second Saturday followed by Sunday, March 2024 offers a rare treat of three consecutive days off starting from the 8th of the month.As students enjoy this extended weekend, it’s a perfect time to delve into some fascinating legends from Hindu mythology that are linked to Lord Shiva and the significance of Maha Shivratri.
Maha Shivratri: Legends associated with this festival
Maha Shivratri is revered as the grandest festival among Lord Shiva’s devotees. The occasion signifies the belief that on this auspicious night, Lord Shiva descends to earth to bless his followers and accept their offerings. Hence, devotees observe vigil throughout the night to offer prayers to the deity. Additionally, many choose to fast for the entire day as a mark of devotion. One prominent ritual observed on Maha Shivratri is the Rudra Abhishek Puja, where a mixture of milk, honey, yogurt, and gangajal is ceremoniously poured over the Shiva linga. Several legends are intertwined with Maha Shivratri, adding to its significance. Here are a few legends associated with Maha Shivratri that students should know about.
The legend of Neelkantha: Long ago, during a time when gods and demons worked together, they embarked on a monumental task called the Samudra Manthan, or the churning of the ocean. Their goal was to extract a magical nectar called Amrit, which could grant immortality. However, as they churned, a deadly poison emerged from the depths of the ocean. This poison had the power to destroy the world.
Terrified, the gods and demons rushed to Lord Shiva for help. In a brave and selfless act, Shiva drank the poison to protect the world. But instead of letting it harm him, he held it in his throat. This act turned his throat blue, earning him the name Nilkantha, which means blue-throated.
Since that day, people celebrate Maha Shivratri to honor Shiva’s sacrifice and bravery. If you ever attend a Maha Shivratri puja, you’ll notice that it’s incomplete without offering Neelkantha flowers, a reminder of Shiva’s incredible deed.
The Lie of Lord Brahma: According to legends, Maha Shivratri marks a significant event involving Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu, two powerful deities in Hindu mythology, who once sought to establish their supremacy over the universe. This ambition angered Lord Shiva, who manifested as a blazing fire that spread rapidly across the cosmos. In an attempt to contain the fire, Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu intervened. However, to stop the fire, Lord Brahma resorted to a lie, which further enraged Lord Shiva.
As a consequence of his lie, Lord Brahma was cursed by Lord Shiva, who decreed that he would not be worshipped by anyone. In Karnataka, a tradition exists where children are allowed to engage in mischievous behavior and then seek forgiveness from Lord Shiva on this day. This tradition symbolizes the punishment meted out to Lord Brahma for his deceitful actions.
Lord Shiva’s Favourite Day: Long ago, Goddess Parvati had asked her husband, Lord Shiva, which day was his favourite among all. Shiva answered that he cherished the new moon day, which falls on the 14th day of the Phalgun month. Parvati shared this with her friends, and the news spread throughout the universe. From that time onwards, Mahashivratri has been celebrated on this special day.
The legend of Lord Shiva and Goddess Ganga: In another tale from Hindu mythology, Bhagirath sought the help of the heavens to bring river goddess Ganga down to Earth. He wanted to use her waters to wash away the ashes of his ancestors, helping them find their way to heaven. When Ganga descended, she was too massive and wild for the Earth to handle.To control Ganga’s force, Lord Brahma advised Bhagirath to seek Lord Shiva’s help, as only he could manage her powerful flow. Shiva agreed and caught Ganga in his hair, preventing her from flooding the Earth. This is why, during Maha Shivratri, devotees either visit the river Ganga or bathe Shiva in water from Ganga, honouring this incredible event.





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