Religious role of Shivarathri

Hindu religious history describes the Supreme Being, God Shiva as the third trinity after Brahma and Vishnu. According to religious faith, God Shiva is destroyer of the world as also calm preserver, being lover of Goddess Parvati (spouse – the Shakti or power) at the same time he himself being the power.

In Hindu religious history, he is worshipped in different manifestations, each depicting a different mood.  The day of Shivarathri is religious observation of great emotional feeling for Shiva.

For devotees of Shiva, Shivarathri is extremely august, a day to become pure and virtuous. A good number of divine myths are known and believed by Hindus for Shivarathri according to traditional popularity among various sects and regions.

Some believe it as the day of eternal marriage of Shiva with Parvati; while other religious sects relate its significance as the day of appearance of Shiva in form of ‘Linga’. Some strongly believe Shivarathri as the day of destructive dance, ‘Tandava’ in the form of Natraj. Yet some legends describe, as revealed by Parvati, particular 14th day of dark fortnight of Hindu month, Phalgun is too dear to the Lord and worshipping him on that day pleases him the most.  There is strong belief that worshipping Shiva on the night of Shivarathri absolves sins and liberates souls.

Unmarried women are traditionally believed in specific significance of the day. They pray Shiva to bless them with husbands as glorified as he himself is.  Shiva temples, generally the Linga form, are visited by devout women on fast. They worship Lord walking around Linga three to five times according to tradition followed by different sects.  Customarily venerable materials like milk, honey, yoghurt and Ganges water used for worshipping symbolically represent purity, piousness, happiness and victory.

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