Mahashivaratri

Maha means great and shivaratri means night dedicated to Lord Shiva. Shivaratir is considered as bith night of Lord Shiva. Shivaratri is the important festival of hindus that is celebrated in the month of Falgun Krishna Chaturdashi i.e. around February last. The Lingodbhar statue of Lord shiva was self immerged at the midning of the shivaratri, so this night is celebrated as the Birth night of Lord Shiva. There are many stories behind the celebration of Shivaratri.

God and demons were performing samundra manthan in the ocean. Samundra manthan is done to take out Aamrit from ocean. During the samundra manthan, the Poison Halahal came out of the ocean. It started to destroy everything. To protect universe from destruction lord Shiva drank the poison and managed to keep in his throat turning it into blue color. Since then he was called Nilkantha meaning blue throat. In this way he saved the world and the tradition of celebrating Shivaratri started.

On the other hand, it is believed that Shiva married Parvati on the day of shivaratri. So people celebrate as the Anniversary day of Shiva and parbati.

Lord shiva is one of the Trimurti gods: Bramha, Bishnu and Maheshwor. Shiva is considered as a creator, preserver, destroyer, concealer and reliever. He lives in Himalaya at the Northen side of Nepal at mount Kailash and lives as a saint or sadhu with snake around his neck, wearing deer skin and sits on tigers skin. His musical instrument is Damaru and Trisul as weapon. Shiva is believed to have third eye on his forehead. Opening the third eye indicates destruction of the universe. Shiva first wife is Satidevi and second wife is Parbati. Ganesh and Kumar are two sons of Lord Shiva.

There are three incidents believed to occured on the day of shivaratri:
1. The Lingodbhav Moorti self immerged at the midnight.
2. Anniversary day of Lord Shiva and Parbati
3. Lord Shiva saved the world taking deadliest poision in his neck and named as Nilakantha

How maha Shivaratri is celebrated?

Shiva Puran says 6 items should be used to worship and offer Lord Shiva in the day of Maha Shivaratri. Six items are beal fruit Vermilion Paste(Chandan), Food Items(Prasad), Incense, lamp(diyo batti), and Betel Leaves.

1. Beal Leaf also known as marmelos Leaf used in offering represents the purification of the ones soul.
2. Vermilion Paste or Chandan used to apply on Shiva Linga after washing it represents good future. Chandan is regarded as must worshiping part for Lord Shiva.
3. Food items or Prasad that are used for worshipping Lord shiva includes fruits, rice etc. They are offered to the Lord Shiva to ensure a long life and fulfillment of desires.
4. Incense or Dhoop Batti are litted to worship lord Shiva which in turn blessed with wealth and prosperity.
5. Lamp or Diyo is the lighting of cotton handmade batti. It is lited and believed to be helpful gaining knowledge.
6. Betel Leaves(Paan ko Paat) represents satisfaction with maturity.

As per Shiva Puran, the beat of Damaru revealed the first seven etters of music: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni. Hence, Lord shiva is considered as innventer of language and notes of music. On this day Shiva Linga is washed with Panchamrit and Pancha Kavya. Panchamrit is a mixture of cow milk, yogurt, honey, sugar and ghee and Panchakavya is a mixture of five products of cow that are cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee. Kalash is placed infront of Shiva Linga filled with water and milk. The neck of Kalash is tired with red and white piece of thread cloth. Flower, mango leaves, peeple leaves, beal leaves are kept inside the kalash and mantras are chanted to worship lord Shiva. Many people perform fasting whole day and night. In the night main worship is performed by chanting mantras, offering beal leaf and pouring water to the ling. Fire is started in the log of woords to make lord shiva warm.

People gather in Pashupatinath temple. It is considered as the biggest temple of lord shiva. Huge numbers of Shiva followers visit to the pashupatinath from India. There huge numbers of naked shadhus covered with ashes with smoking weeds can be found around Pashupatinath. Smoking weeds is considered as the devine gift of Lord Shiva. People believe lord Shiva enjoys taking bhang, dhaturo etc. There exists a long line of devotees around Pashupatinath to worship Lord Shiva on the same day.

There are many names of lord Shiva. Below are the 108 names of him:
OM SHIVAYA NAMAHA (the Auspicious One)
OM MAHESHVARAYA NAMAHA (the Great God Shiva)
OM SHAMBHAVE NAMAHA (the God who exists for our happiness alone)
OM PINAKINE NAMAHA (Shiva, who guards the path of dharma)
OM SHASHISHEKHARAYA NAMAHA (God who wears the crescent moon in his hair)
OM VAMADEVAYA NAMAHA (God who is pleasing and auspicious in every way)
OM VIRUPAKSHAYA NAMAHA (the God of spotless form)
OM KAPARDINE NAMAHA (Lord with thickly matted hair)
OM NILALOHITAYA NAMAHA (God splendid as the red sun at daybreak)
OM SHANKARAYA NAMAHA (the source of all prosperity)
OM SHULAPANAYE NAMAHA (God who carries a spear)
OM KHATVANGINE NAMAHA (God who carries a knurled club)
OM VISHNUVALLABHAYA NAMAHA (Shiva, who is dear to Lord Vishnu)
OM SHIPIVISHTAYA NAMAHA (Lord whose form emits great rays of light)
OM AMBIKANATHAYA NAMAHA (Ambika's Lord)
OM SHRIKANTAYA NAMAHA (whose throat is shining blue)
OM BHAKTAVATSALAYA NAMAHA (Lord who loves His devotees like new born calves)
OM BHAVAYA NAMAHA (the God who is existence itself)
OM SARVAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who is all)
OM TRILOKESHAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who is the Lord of all the three worlds)
OM SHITAKANTHAYA NAMAHA (primal soul whose throat is deep blue)

OM SHIVAPRIYAYA NAMAHA (god who is dear to Shakti)
OM UGRAYA NAMAHA (Shiva whose presence is awesome and overwhelming)
OM KAPALINE NAMAHA (God whose begging bowl is a human skull)
OM KAMARAYE NAMAHA (Shiva who conquers all passions)
OM ANDHAKASURA SUDANAYA NAMAHA (Lord who killed the asura Andhaka)
OM GANGADHARAYA NAMAHA (God who holds the Ganges River in his hair)
OM LALATAKSHAYA NAMAHA (the Lord whose sport is creation)
OM KALAKALAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who is the death of death)
OM KRIPANIDHAYE NAMAHA (God who is the treasure of compassion)
OM BHIMAYA NAMAHA (Shiva whose strength is awesome)
OM PARASHU HASTAYA NAMAHA (God who wields an axe in his hands)
OM MRIGAPANAYAE NAMAHA (Lord who looks after soul in wilds)
OM JATADHARAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who has matted hair)
OM KAILASAVASINE NAMAHA (God whose house is in Mount Kailas)
OM KAVACHINE NAMAHA (Lord who is wrapped in armor)
OM KATHORAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who causes all growth)
OM TRIPURANTAKAYA NAMAHA (Lord who destroyed the three demonic cities)
OM VRISHANKAYA NAMAHA (God whose emblem is a bull (Nandi))
OM VRISHABHARUDHAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who rides a bull)
OM BHASMODDHULITA VIGRAHAYA NAMAHA (Lord covered with holy ash)
OM SAMAPRIYAYA NAMAHA (God exceedingly fond of hymns from the Sama Veda)
OM SVARAMAYAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who creates through sound)
OM TRAYIMURTAYE NAMAHA (Lord who is worshiped in three forms)
OM ANISHVARAYA NAMAHA (undisputed Lord)
OM SARVAGYAYA NAMAHA (God who knows all things)
OM PARAMATMANE NAMAHA (the Supreme Self)
OM SOMASURAGNI LOCHANAYA NAMAHA (the light of the eyes of Soma, Surya and Agni)
OM HAVISHE NAMAHA (Shiva who receives oblations of ghee)
OM YAGYAMAYAYA NAMAHA (the architect of all sacrificial rites)
OM SOMAYA NAMAHA (the Moon-glow of the mystic's vision)
OM PANCHAVAKTRAYA NAMAHA (the God of the five activities)
OM SADASHIVAYA NAMAHA (the eternally auspicious benevolent Shiva)
OM VISHVESHVARAYA NAMAHA (all-pervading ruler of the cosmos)
OM VIRABHADRAYA NAMAHA (Shiva the foremost of heroes)
OM GANANATHAYA NAMAHA (God of the Ganas)
OM PRAJAPATAYE NAMAHA (the Creator)
OM HIRANYARETASE NAMAHA (God who emanates golden souls)
OM DURDHARSHAYA NAMAHA (the unconquerable being)
OM GIRISHAYA NAMAHA (the monarch of the holy mountain Kailas)
OM GIRISHAYA NAMAHA ( Lord of the Himalayas)
OM ANAGHAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who can inspire no fear)
OM BUJANGABHUSHANAYA NAMAHA (Lord adorned with golden snakes)
OM BHARGAYA NAMAHA (the foremost of rishis)
OM GIRIDHANVANE NAMAHA (God whose weapon is a mountain)
OM GIRIPRIYAYA NAMAHA (Lord who is fond of mountains)
OM KRITTIVASASE NAMAHA (God who wears clothes of hide)
OM PURARATAYE NAMAHA (Lord who is thoroughly at home in the wilderness)
OM BHAGAVATE NAMAHA (the Lord of prosperity)
OM PRAMATHADHIPAYA NAMAHA (God who is served by goblins)
OM MRITUNJAYAYA NAMAHA (conqueror of death)
OM SUKSHMATANAVE NAMAHA (the subtlest of the subtle)
OM JAGADVYAPINE NAMAHA (Shiva who fills the whole world)
OM JAGADGURAVE NAMAHA (the guru of all the worlds)
OM VYOMAKESHAYA NAMAHA (God whose hair is the spreading sky above)
OM MAHASENAJANAKAYA NAMAHA ( the origin of Mahasena)
OM CHARUVIKRAMAYA NAMAHA (Shiva, the guardian of wandering pilgrims)
OM RUDRAYA NAMAHA (Lord who is fit to be praised)
OM BHUTAPATAYE NAMAHA (the source of living creatures, including the Bhutas, or ghostly creatures)
OM STHANAVE NAMAHA (firm and immovable deity)
OM AHIRBUDHNYAYA NAMAHA (Lord who waits for the sleeping kundalini)
OM DIGAMBARAYA NAMAHA (Shiva whose robes is the cosmos)
OM ASHTAMURTAYE NAMAHA (Lord who has eight forms)
OM ANEKATMANE NAMAHA (God who is the one soul)
OM SATVIKAYA NAMAHA (Lord of boundless energy)
OM SHUDDHA VIGRAHAYA NAMAHA (who is free of all doubt and dissension0
OM SHASHVATAYA NAMAHA (endless and eternal)
OM KHANDAPARASHAVE NAMAHA (God who cuts through the mind's despair)
OM AJAYA NAMAHA (the instigator of all that occurs)
OM PAPAVIMOCHAKAYA NAMAHA (the Lord who releases all fetters)
OM MRIDAYA NAMAHA (Lord who shows only mercy)
OM PASHUPATAYE NAMAHA (ruler of all evolving souls, the animals)
OM DEVAYA NAMAHA (foremost of devas, demigods)
OM MAHADEVAYA NAMAHA (greatest of the gods)
OM AVYAYAYA NAMAHA (one never subject to change)
OM HARAYE NAMAHA (Shiva who dissolves all bondage)
OM PASHUDANTABHIDE NAMAHA (one who punished Pushan)
OM AVYAGRAYA NAMAHA (Lord who is steady and unwavering)
OM DAKSHADHVARAHARAYA NAMAHA (destroyer of Daksha's conceited sacrifice)
OM HARAYA NAMAHA (Lord who withdraws the cosmos)
OM BHAGANETRABHIDE NAMAHA (Shiva who taught Bhaga to see more clearly)
OM AVYAKTAYA NAMAHA (Shiva who is subtle and unseen)
OM SAHASRAKSHAYA NAMAHA (Lord of limitless forms)
OM SAHASRAPADE NAMAHA (God who is standing and walking everywhere)
OM APAVARGAPRADAYA NAMAHA (Lord who gives and takes all things)
OM ANANTAYA NAMAHA (God who is unending)
OM TARAKAYA NAMAHA (great liberator of mankind)
OM PARAMESHVARAYA NAMAHA (the great God)
Source for 108 names: stephen-knapp.com