Maha Shivaratri, the night of the worship of Lord Shiva, occurs on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half of the Phalguna month (in North India) and in Magha month (in South India). The Hindus celebrate this festival, visiting lord Shiva temples, in large numbers, on this day.
Why is it significant to celebrate Shivaratri? Here are the three reasons for it.
1. Sadashiva, the absolute formless God, appears in “Lingodbhav Moorti” form on the midnight of Maha Shivaratri. It is because of that, all Shiva devotees awake all the night and do "Shivlingam abhishekham"
2. It is on Shivaratri, Lord Shiva married Parvati Devi. It is to be noted that, Shiva without Parvati is pure 'Nirgun Brahman', and with Parvati, he becomes the “Sagun Brahman”, for the purpose of the pious devotion of his devotees.
3. It is further believed that, Lord Shiva became 'Neelkantham' (blue-throated), after swallowing the deadly poison, that came up, during the churning of “Kshir Sagar” (milky ocean) on Shivaratri.
The poison was so deadly that, even a drop of it would have destroyed the entire universe. Hence, the god held it in his neck, which turned blue, due to the poison effect.
Shivaratri is therefore, even a thanksgiving day to the Lord, for protecting the world from the destruction.
The 14th shloka of Shivmahimna Stotra says: “O three eyed Lord, when the poison came up through the churning of the ocean by the gods and demons, they were all aghast with fear as if the untimely end of all creation was imminent.
In your kindness, you drank all the poison that still makes your throat blue. O Lord, even this blue mark does but increase your glory. What is apparently a blemish becomes an ornament in one intent on ridding the world of fear.”
By Phani Ch