Shivaratri is a major religious festival of Hindus. This festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva, the deity of Hindus. It is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married. Since when this festival started, is still unknown.
Ancient texts describing the festival of Mahashivratri
This festival is also mentioned in the major Puranas of Hinduism including Skanda, Linga Purana, and Padma Puranas. Skanda was the son of Shiva and Parvati also known as Murgesh in South India. A lot has been written in the Puranas on the religious beliefs of Varanasi and the history of Shiva worship. Although Shivaratri is celebrated all over India, Varanasi is the city of Shiva, so the excitement of Shivaratri here is a whole lot more as compared to other cities. On this day, after taking a bath in the Ganges, people visit the Shiva-temple. All Shiva temples in Banaras are full of people, the decoration of the major Shiva-temples is unique.
When, wearing only the Kaupina, Lying on the sands of the holy Ganges in Benares,(Varanasi) When shall I weep aloud, “O Lord of ghouls”, Saying this, and whole days shall pass like moments?(Swami Vivekananda -The Complete Works)
There is also a tradition of fasting on the day of Shivaratri. As celebrating Shivaratri is considered as an age old practice, so is the practice of fasting on this day. And Shiva Purana also mentions the practice of fasting. Shivaratri and fasting is a description of glory.
A wonderful story of fasting on Mahashivratri festival
This ancient story shows the importance of non-violence in the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. As the time passed, the concept of non-violence became even stronger. Gandhi’s imagination of Ramrajya and his attachment to non-violence was also based on the Hindu religious tradition that has been going on for thousands of years.
SHIV RATRI KATHA
Shiva Ratri Katha:-——– According to this legend mentioned in Shiva Purana, there was a hunter. His name was Chitrabhan, due to economic circumstances he had to take a loan from a businessman. Chitrabhan could not repay the loan at the appointed time, due to which the merchant made Chitrabhan captive. After some time Chitrabhan was released by the business man from prison on the promise of repaying the loan.
The hunter went to the jungle with a motive to kill some animals and gather some money so that he can repay the loan and become debt free. There was a pond in the forest. The hunter climbed a tree near the pond and eagerly waited for the wild animals to come to the pond to quench the thirst. While waiting for the arrival of the wild animal, the hunter fell asleep on the tree. It is believed that on that day it was Shivaratri and due to being hungry the fast of the hunter was completed.
After waiting for some more time a pregnant deer came to drink water. Seeing him, the hunter raised his bow and arrow and aimed at the pregnant deer. When the deer noticed the hunter’s movement she said, I am from the womb, I will give birth soon. Will you kill two creatures together? It would not be appropriate. I will come to you soon after giving birth to my child, then you can kill me. Hearing this the hunter took off his bow and the deer also left from there.
After a while, another deer came to drink water near the pond. The hunter carefully targeted this deer. Deer pleaded with the hunter and said, “I have gone in search of my husband. I will come back to you after meeting my husband. The hunter also let this deer go. Now hunter Began to think about the events. A little more time passed.
Now the third deer appeared. This deer was with her little children. The hunter raised his bow. Just then the deer spoke “ I will return these children to their father and then I’ll come back. Please let me go” this time though the hunter refused to do so. He told that I have already left two deer and didn’t kill them. Deer requested the hunter to believe her, she promised him to come back. The hunter felt pity for him, he also let that deer go. Hunter again started waiting for a wild animal. The time passed it was morning while he still waited. The hunter was amused when he saw a deer again. Then that deer sadly said to the hunter, if you have killed three deer and children coming before me, kill me too. Do not delay. Because I can not bear this sorrow. I am the husband of those deer. If you have given them life, then leave me too. I will come back to meet my family. The hunter let him go as well. Despite being hungry and worried about his future, the hunter felt very good. The hunter found that his heart was now filled with compassion.
Shiva Barat also comes out of many temples of Varanasi on Shivaratri. Anyone can join this procession. The Shiva Barat is a way of depicting events related to Shiva’s life in the tableau. I also thought of becoming a part of the Barat emanating from the ancient Shiva temple (Mahamrityunjaya) of Varanasi described in Kashikhand. By six o’clock in the evening, I was in the courtyard of an ancient temple in the most ancient region of Varanasi. There was a long queue of visitors, I bought something to anoint Shiva from a nearby shop, Ganga- Jal (water of Ganges ) in a small clay cup some BEL- PATRA , some flowers. I got sandalwood paste applied, on my forehead from the priest at the shop. Now, like a true Shiva devotee, I joined the queue to enter the temple. The crowd was echoing with Har-Har Mahadev slogans. After about forty-five minutes I entered the temple. People said that due to corona, this time the crowd was lot less, and the number of aged people in the devotees also appeared to be quite less. I then came out of the temple after the divine darshan of Mahadev. It came to know from the people inside the temple that there is still an hour for the barat to come out and one should go on the main route to see the Barat clearly. The path of the temple is narrow, so I intended to go to Maidagin, the main road. Knowing that Maidagin is five minutes away from there, I intended to have a look at other ancient temples (mentioned in Kashi Khand) near Mahamrityunjaya temple.
Almost all the temples were smaller than the Mahamrityunjaya temple. The temples were also comparatively less crowded. One thing surprised me a lot – the visitors to these temples were completely unaware of the historical aspect of the temple. The importance of the temple was only religious to them. Many of the youths were also unaware of the religious aspect, only due to tradition, they were there. This locality of Varanasi is like a time machine that can throw you in ancient times in one stroke. Many sacred texts of Hindus mention this area, &temples but school books are silent on this subject. The fake Marxist historians at school and university are busy teaching imported history. Suddenly the music playing in a loud voice was a gesture of the Barat, I too departed to Madaigin with fast steps.
A lot of tableaus were seen at the Maidagin Crossroads. The events related to Shiva’s life were depicted in all the tableaux. Some old-fashioned horse-car were also seen. People told that the dignitaries of the city are sitting on them. In the crowd, all were engaged in capturing this memorable event on their mobile phones. I enjoyed the tableaux for about half an hour and after that, I decided to enjoy one more practice of the day.
Thandai ,Bhaang & paan .
JAI-JAI SHIV SHANKAR KAANTA LAGEY NA KANKAD KI PYALA TEREY NAAM KA PIYA.
Thandai is a popular soft drink in Varanasi. Thandai is made from a mixture of natural things, including rose petals, almonds, fruit seeds, milk, etc. Cannabis is also added to it on Mahashivaratri. I also came to enjoy Thandai at a famous, Thandai shop at the Maidagin. Nearly a dozen people were at the shop. Surprisingly almost all the people reached there only after seeing the Shiva-baraat. Thandai was being served in a clay -cup(kullhada) naturally. Cannabis was also kept in a vessel. People were adding cannabis to the thandai according to their capacity. I told the storekeeper that this is my first time so I asked him to tell me the right amount to drink cannabis. Take suggestions from the shop owner or else this experience can be overwhelming. The practice of drinking cannabis in Shivratri is also very old. At one time, there was elaborate preparation in temples as well. SIL-BATTA sil (flat-stone) batta (a cylindrical grinding stone) was used to grind cannabis before the arrival of electricity. In a Shiva temple (In the seventeenth-eighteenth century, many temples were built by the Marathas in Varanasi.) I saw a sil equipped with geometric art. This Shiva temple is located on Panchkoshi Marg.
After Thandai , I reached a paan shop. I felt a wave (BHANG KI TARANG) while chewing the betel leaf. A very different experience. With small steps, I walked back towards my home with this memorable experience. (If you come to Varanasi and want to experience cannabis, then go to any famous Thandai shop. It is best to eat cannabis in Thandai. Before drinking cannabis(bhang) keep some points in your mind.
- Before consuming cannabis, make sure to know its quantity from the shop owner.
- Never drive after drinking cannabis.