Mahashivratri

Yet another big festival of India.

It’s a holiday in government offices and many private corporate offices as well. Another festive of joy for varied reasons. 
Shiva, some call it a fiercely & huge deity with the one in the image and few consider it to be energy, Shiva tattva — principle in all forms. One of the most revered & influential deity/energy in Hinduism. 
On this day, most of the people do fasting — exempted to have light food like fruits and some other sattvic food. These days people find more relaxations in this according to one’s convenience — We had a big debate on this at the office today.

Religious fasting is a common practice in India — especially in the generation of my parents. Some, do it 2–3 times a month. Few do it weekly, depending on the deity one worship. Like, my mom used to fast 2 days per week. Now we forced her to reduce it to one. I do twice a year and this is one of them — since my parents advises — No force.
I didn’t use to acknowledge this fasting thing. Why to beat your stomach in hunger. I go full angry when I am hungry. But, at times when I did fasting, like today — reduction on some food. I felt good — not easy, though. It somewhat does a cleansing of the body. One shouldn’t be extensively straining on the body when it requires food. And yet due to religious reasons some people do stretch it — which I strongly believe is wrong. But I believe, abstaining from any craving could be practiced along with food. Cleansing of body and mind both. 
In today’s debate at my office on this topic, one of my friends had a spiritual point — In Sanskrit, ‘Upvas’ means ‘Sitting near to’…. Near to God. He continued that, fasting doesn’t means refraining just eating food. But, one needs to refrain senses & other organs. Everything inside is purified and tend towards the divine.

Coming back to this Mahashivratri. 
Today, after my Yoga class, I went to the nearest temple of Shiva Linga — an icon of worship of Shiva. A lot of devotees were there. Pouring milk on the Linga. I didn’t do— don’t like doing it. I folded my hands and then took prasadam. 
So, as I walked back home, I wondered why do we celebrate Mahashivratri? — my obvious questions on festivals, these days. So with some search, I found out that. According to Hindu Calendar every month, there is Shivratri on the 13/14th day or so. But in this month of Magha, the Shivratri holds special status. Mythological stories says Shiva appeared in Lingam form on this day. ‘Maha ‘means great and ‘Ratri’ means night. So, Mahashivratri means ‘the Great night of Shiva’. One should practice meditation & self-control on this day.

You know, there are many devotees of Shiva who worship for numerous reasons associated with Shiva’s attributes.
Blue throat — which says he drank poison and holds it there. Snake around his neck — depicts alertness, other attributes like a crescent moon on his head, Trishul as weapon, 3rd eye on the forehead, father of Ganesha.

One interesting reason, I find is — one of my friends who otherwise isn’t a religious or devoted — admire Shiva because stories say Shiva smoked marijuana — which is illegal in today’s India according to the law. He once said to me ‘Dude, see even Shiva used to smoke. There is nothing wrong in this.’ I started to laugh. Okay, it might not be wrong, if you say. And, even if mythology says Shiva did smoke, but look at the machismo body of Shiva. And then look at you. It is harming your body. Anyway, people have their personal reasons and ways for devotions. That’s all I can say.

Apart from religious practices, main essence of this festival is abstaining from food — which self-control & self-restraint. And of course practicing meditation — not only on this day but otherwise.
I would end by sharing a song, actually a Sanskrit Stotram —Kalabhairava Ashtakam. Although, I don’t understand the language much, but I love the music and the words with Sanskrit pronunciation.