What is Mahashivaratri?
Mahashivaratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. It is a peaceful event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.
I celebrated with my little one by lighting a diya in the morning and teaching him about Lord Shiva. Then we sat down together to color the Shiva page out of the Desi Babies coloring book, My First Indian Coloring Book. Here is my artwork compared to Nikhil's:
Even though coloring had a major calming effect for me, looks like Nikhil was the winner of this competition ;)
Different legends describe the significance of Maha Shivaratri. According to one legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva's presence everywhere. According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. A different legend states that the offering to Shiva is an annual renewal and chance to get over past sins if any, to restart on a virtuous path and thereby reach Mount Kailasha and liberation.
We love this explanation from Ishasadhguru.org:
"Legends apart, why this day and night are held in such importance in the yogic traditions is because of the possibilities it presents to a spiritual seeker. Modern science has gone through many phases and arrived at a point today where they are out to prove to you that everything that you know as life, everything that you know as matter and existence, everything that you know as the cosmos and galaxies, is just one energy which manifests itself in millions of ways.This scientific fact is an experiential reality in every yogi. The word “yogi” means one who has realized the oneness of the Existence. When I say “yoga,” I am not referring to any one particular practice or system. All longing to know the unbounded, all longing to know the oneness in the Existence is yoga. The night of Mahashivratri offers a person an opportunity to experience this."