Today is Maha Shivratri and Devotees around the World follow the festival with great devotion and love. It is well known Indian festival where Devotees observe strict fast in honor of Lord Shiva believing in absorption of sins and liberating himself from the cycle of birth and death. It is also a very popular festival among Women. Unmarried women believe that they will be bestowed with an ideal husband if they fast during Shivratri while married women pray for the well being of their husband. The devotees wake up very early, take bath and visit the nearest Shiva Temple to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. Evening the Temples are visited again after which fasts are broken by the devotees.
Many interesting legends are told behind the origin of Shivratri. It is stated in one of the most popular legends of Puranas that during Samudra Manthan a poison pot emerged which could destroy the World and thus, Gods and demons were equally terrified. Shiva was approached by them to save the World. He held the deathly poison in his throat without swallowing it which turned his throat into blue color. This incident gave his name as Neelkanth. Shivratri is the celebration of this event of saving the World by Shiva.
Some legends also state that Shivratri is celebrated as wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati while some believe that Shivaratri is an auspicious night when Shiva performed Tandava, the dance believed to be of creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular legend stated in Linga Purana is, Shiva transformed himself in the form of a Linga and thus, devotees celebrate the Shiva Linga on this auspicious night.
Shiva mythologies are indeed one of the most interesting Hindu Mythologies of all time. Happy Maha Shivaratri to one and all.