The Festival of Mahashivaratri has various legends surrounding it. It varies from place to place and when taken together they present a very vivid view of the folklore. Here we present several less know things about the festival.1. Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Maagha as per Amavasya-ant month calculation. As per Poornima-ant month calculation, the day is Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Phalguna.
2. There are 12 Shivaratris in the year, out of which the Mahashivaratri is considered most sacred.
3. Apart from India it is also celebrated widely in countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago, Fiji.
4. One legend says that Maha Shivaratri was the night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the cosmic dance.
5. Another legend says that on this day Lord Shiva saved the world from the disastrous effects of a poison that emerged as a by product of the churning of the sea (Samudra manthan), by consuming the whole of the poison.
6. According to a different legend, it is the favorite day of Lord Shiva. After earth’s creation was complete, Goddess Parvati asked Lord Shiva what pleased him the most. The Lord replied that the 14th night of the new moon, in the dark fortnight during the month of Phalgun, is his favorite day. Parvati repeated these words to Her friends, from whom the word spread to all creation.
7. In another legend it is said that when the world was facing destruction and Goddess Parvati prayed to her husband Lord Shiva to rescue it. She prayed for the Jivas (living souls) that remained in seed-like particles of gold dust in lumps of wax, since Pralaya is brought about by Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva had obliged on this day.
8. Once Lord Shiva told Goddess Parvati about a hunter of Varanasi. He was returning from the forest one evening with the game birds he had killed. He felt tired and sat at the foot of a tree to take some rest. He was soon overpowered by sleep. When he awoke, it was the thick darkness of night. It was the night of Maha Shivaratri but he didn’t know it. He climbed up the tree, tied his bundle of dead birds to a branch and sat up waiting for the dawn. The tree happened to be a Bilva tree. There was a Lingam under that tree. He plucked a few leaves and then dropped them down. The night-dew trickled down from his body. The Lord was highly pleased with involuntary little gifts of the hunter.
9. The World famous Mahashivaratri Fair is organized every year at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh, during this time. The town of Mandi, located on the banks of the Beas River, is popularly known as the “Cathedral of Temples” and is one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh, with about 81 temples of different Gods and Goddesses in its periphery. It is attended by huge number of devotees apart from a significant number of foreigners who visit this place.
10. In Trinidad & Tobago, it marks the annual carnival when thousands of Hindu women dressed in saris and men in kurtas spend the entire night in over 400 temples across the land, offering special jhalls (a mixture of milk, dhai, flowers, sugar-cane, sweets) to Lord Shiva.