According to a legend, Lord Shiva once confided to his consort, devi Parvati, that the 14th day of the dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) in phalgun month is one of his choicest days. From then onwards, it was considered that if a devotee offers prayers to Shiva on this day, he is sure to be blessed by the lord. This year Mahashivratri falls on 7th March 2016!
As all the Hindu festivals have some mythological legend behind, Maha Shivaratri is also one of them. The day is very auspicious and many mythological legends are associated with it. Before observing fast on Maha Shivratri 2016, you must know the events occurred on this holy day. Hence, we are mentioning some of them below:
The Legend Of Neelkanth
You have read about the legend of Samudra Manthan (churning of milk ocean) so many times, as this legend is associated with so many events that are mentioned in Hindu mythology. According to this legend, when gods and demons were churning the milk ocean, there were many objects that came out of the ocean. One of them was a poison pot. This poison was very dangerous for the universe. So, Lord Vishnu suggested the gods to call Lord Shiva, as only he was able to drink it. To save universe from this very toxic poison, Lord Shiva drank it all. But, it stayed in his throat, as Parvati pressed his neck and the poison didn’t affect him. The neck of Lord Shiva became blue because of the poison. Thus, he was named as Neelkantha.
Although, the poison didn’t have any effect on Lord Shiva, gods had to keep him awake on that night as the poison was very toxic. All gods kept a vigil that night to observe Lord Shiva. To keep him awake, they entertained him by performing various musics and dances. As the Sun came out, the Lord Shiva was very happy with the devotion of gods and blessed them. Since then, devotees try to enchant him on this day. They fast and keep vigil at night to thank Lord Shiva for saving the world. It is said that Lord Shiva blesses all the devotees, who pleases him on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.
The Legend Of A Hunter
There was a hunter in Varanasi, named Suswara. His only earning was through hunting the birds and animals and selling them. Once, he was in search of animals in the forest and found a deer. He was about to kill it, but he noticed that the family of the deer was very sad for its coming death. So, he decided not to kill it. That day, he hunted nothing and it was night already. So, he climbed up a tree to sleep. As he was hungry, he was unable to sleep. The tree which gave him shelter was a Bael tree (wood apple). To pass his time, he started plucking the leaves of Bael and dropped them down on ground. In the morning, he brought some food for himself and his family. When he was about to eat it, a beggar came and asked for it, so he gave his food to the beggar.
Two messengers of Lord Shiva came to him, at the time of his death. Those were sent to take his soul to Lord Shiva. The messengers told him that on that day, when he didn’t killed any animal, he unconsciously worshiped Lord Shiva on the night of Shivaratri. There was a Lingam at the bottom of that tree on which he dropped leaves of Bael, the leaked water from his bottle washed the Lingam. He fasted all day and night, so he followed all the rituals of Shivaratri. Then, he lived with Lord Shiva.
This is why people worship Lord Shiva, to take his blessings.