Mahashivratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva, one of the main deities in Hinduism. The festival is observed on the 13th night/14th day of the Hindu month of Phalguna, which falls in February or March. The festival is considered to be one of the most important and auspicious events in the Hindu calendar and is marked by devotion, prayers, and rituals offered to Lord Shiva.
The exact origin of Mahashivratri is not known, but there are several myths and legends associated with the festival that explain its significance. Some of the most popular ones are described below:
The Marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati: According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were married on the day of Mahashivratri. The festival is therefore celebrated as a symbol of the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and as a celebration of their love and devotion.
The Tandava of Lord Shiva: Another popular legend states that on the day of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava dance, a cosmic dance that symbolizes the destruction of the universe. This dance is said to have lasted for the entire night and is the reason why the festival is celebrated all night long.
The Triumph of Good over Evil: Another legend states that on the day of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva defeated and destroyed a demon named Andhakasura, who was blind and terrorized the world. The festival is therefore seen as a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.
Regardless of the exact origin, Mahashivratri is considered to be a time of great spiritual significance and is observed with devotion and reverence by Hindus all over the world. On this day, devotees fast, perform rituals, offer prayers and perform other acts of devotion to Lord Shiva. They also visit Shiva temples, where special prayers and ceremonies are conducted.
Isha Foundation, founded by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, is a non-profit organization that aims to offer inner transformation to individuals and create a more harmonious world. One of the ways the foundation celebrates Mahashivratri is through the offering of Rudraksha Diksha.
Rudraksha is a type of seed that is traditionally used in Hinduism for prayer and spiritual purposes. The word “Rudraksha” comes from two Sanskrit words, “Rudra” (a Hindu deity) and “Aksha” (tear), and the seeds are said to have originated from the tears of Lord Shiva. The wearing of Rudraksha beads is believed to bring blessings and spiritual benefits to the wearer.
The Rudraksha Diksha is a spiritual process offered by Isha Foundation during the Mahashivratri festival. During the Diksha, participants are initiated into the tradition of wearing Rudraksha beads, and they receive a mala (string of beads) to wear. The process also includes meditations, chanting, and other practices aimed at deepening one’s connection with Lord Shiva and facilitating inner transformation.
Isha Foundation’s Rudraksha Diksha is unique in that it is not limited to just one day or period of the year. Participants are encouraged to continue wearing the Rudraksha beads and practicing the associated meditations and chanting, even after the festival is over. This helps to create a more sustained and ongoing connection with Lord Shiva, as well as a deeper experience of inner transformation.
- Isha Foundation (2021). Isha Foundation – About Us. Available at https://www.ishafoundation.org/about
- Isha Foundation (2021). Rudraksha Diksha. Available at https://www.ishafoundation.org/rudraksha-diksha
- Hinduism Today (2021). The Significance of Rudraksha in Hinduism. Available at https://www.hinduismtoday.com/blogs/the-significance-of-rudraksha-in-hinduism/17108.html
- Hindu Festivals (2021). Mahashivratri 2021: Significance, Date, and Celebrations. Available at https://www.hindufestivals.info/mahashivratri/
- Hinduism Today (2021). The Legends of Maha Shivaratri. Available at https://www.hinduismtoday.com/blogs/the-legends-of-maha-shivaratri/17079.html
- Myths and Legends (2021). The Legend of Maha Shivaratri. Available at https://myths.e2bn.org/mythsandlegends/userstory6600-the-legend-of-maha-shivaratri.html