Mythical Stories Around Mahashivratri That You Must Know
- Author: Priyanka Published: 10th Mar, 2021
Mahashivratri is quite a significant festival for people believing in the Hindu religion. It is celebrated annually to honour Lord Shiva, who is believed by many to be the creator, destroyer and protector of the universe. The festival’s name translates to ‘The Great Night of Lord Shiva’. It is celebrated on the 13th and the 14th day of the Magha month (Amavasyant calendar) and the Phalguna month (Purnimant calendar). On this day, devotees of Lord Shiva, who is also lovingly referred to as ‘Bholenath’, wake up early and take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganges. They then visit Shiva temples in their vicinity and pay respects to him by offering fruits, honey and cow milk to the statue, which is also known as the ‘lingam’. It is also believed that keeping a fast on this day brings prosperity. The origin and story behind the celebrations bring forth a series of myths and legends to our attention. Read on to know about them.
The Samudra Manthan Story
According to some stories, during the churning of the ocean ( known as Samudra Manthan), a pot of poison emerged from the seas. It was supposedly so deadly that the pot itself was enough to destroy the entire world. When the gods and the demons ran to Lord Shiva with the issue, he drank the poison but held it in his throat to save the world. The poison then turned his throat blue, giving him his much-beloved name of ‘Nilkantha’ or the one with the blue throat.
The Brahma-Vishnu Fight
This tale is about a supremacy fight. It is believed that Brahma and Vishnu got into a raging dispute over their supremacy over each other. To put a stop to the tiff, Lord Shiva punished them by taking the form of a fire that engulfed the whole universe. But the competition continued with both of them trying to reach the end of it to prove their prowess. It was later revealed that Brahma lied about making it to the end. At this point, Lord Shiva decided to punish Brahma by cursing the Lord that nobody would pray to him.
The Story of the Hunter and the Lion
After a good day of chasing and killing birds in the forest, the hunter realised that a Lion was following him. In order to save himself, he decided to climb on a tree and remain there until the beast left. But he didn’t. The Lion decided to camp beneath the tree until the hunter came down. Soon, it turned dark, and as a preventive step from falling asleep, the hunter decided to spend the night by plucking the leaves of the Bilva tree. He didn’t realise that there was a ‘shivling’ close to the tree, exactly where he had been dropping the leaves. Lord Shiva, impressed with all the Bilva or ‘Bel’ offerings, decided to come to save the hunter despite him having killed multiple animals that day.