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Devotees seek Lord Shiva's blessings on his day

Last updated on: March 2, 2011 11:37 IST

Devotees seek Lord Shiva's blessings on his day

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The world is under the spell of Lord Shiva as his day, the MahaShivratri, is being celebrated across the globe by his devotees.

Mahashivratri falls on the 13th night and the 14th day of the krishna paksha in the Maaga month of the Hindu calendar.

While most of the Hindu festivals involve feasting and rejoicing, Shivratri is about fasting and prayer, focusing one's attention on Lord Shiva.

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Image: A woman offers prayers to Lord Shiva in a temple during the holy day of Shivratri in Bhopal
Photographs: Reuters
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As per scriptural and discipleship traditions, the penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's 'highest good,' steadily and swiftly.

The Skanda Purana, another holy text of the Hindus, also mentions the significance of Shivaratri.

The religious belief is that if one offers milk, Dhatura (a kind of intoxicating plant) and Belpatra to Lord Shiva and observes a night-long vigil and a fast, one will receive heavenly blessings.


Image: A boy dressed as God Shiva sits during a religious procession in Jammu.
Photographs: Reuters
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Devotees seek Lord Shiva's blessings on his day

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The Shiva temples are bursting with life as people gather for worship throughout the day, where special poojas are offered to the Lord from day break.

Devotees spend the day reciting mantras and shlokas of Lord Shiva. The more staunch ones observe a complete fast. Some people spend the night in the temple in vigil, witnessing the various forms of worship all through the night.

Sleep however is postponed to the night, to proceed only after having witnessed the first star in the evening.


Image: Devotees pray in front of a shivling during the Maha Shivratri festival in Ahmedabad
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters
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Devotees seek Lord Shiva's blessings on his day

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Advanced seekers, spend most of their time in meditation. Married women pray for their husband's longer life, while unmarried women pray for a virtuous husband.

In the holy city of Allahabad, lakhs of devotees take a divine dip in the Ganga.


Image: A sadhu offers prayer to Lord Shiva in the river Ganga in Allahabad.
Photographs: Reuters
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Devotees seek Lord Shiva's blessings on his day

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In South India, Mahashivratri is a widely celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, as Lord Shiva is regarded as the Adi Guru from whom the yogic tradition originates.

In Nepal, thousands of devotees, including those from India, throng the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu from early morning and queue up for hours for a darshan of Lord Shiva.


Image: A man dressed as Lord Shiva blesses a devotee on the occasion of Shivratri in Trakeshawar, West Bengal
Photographs: Sucheta Das/Reuters
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