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Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri Falls in February-March. And is regarded as the best Shiva vrata. A legend in Annamalai Puranam (that is cited also for Thirukkarthikai) says about this festival that, in an argument as to who of them was greater, Brahma and Vishnu decided that it would be the one who saw the crown or feet of Lord Shiva; that Vishnu then went to search for Shiva’s feet, and Brahma for Shiva’s crown; that Vishnu failed in his quest and admitted defeat, while Brahma claimed, falsely, to have seen Shiva’s crown and produced as evidence the cactus flower thazhampoo; and that, as a consequence, Shiva appeared in the form of a flame and laid down that there would be no temple worship for Brahma while in all places with a Shiva temple there would be one for Vishnu, too. Shiva thus manifested as a flame on krishna paksha chaturthi in Masi month. This is Shivaratri. The true import of this legend in Annamalai Puranam is to be found in the dvaita-advaita principles. Brahma is advaitam, involving what is called nirguna upasana, where there is no place for idol worship. Shaiva siddhanta and vaishnava siddhantha lay stress on saguna upasana and idol worship. It is hence that there are Shiva-Vishnu temples under the dvaita and visishtadvaita systems, while there is none for Brahma under advaita. This is how we need to interpret this legend and not that one deity is greater than another. Another ancient text says that Parvati once playfully covered Shiva’s eyes with her palms, causing the world to be plunged in darkness. In remorse over the woe caused to humanity by her action, Parvati offered worship to Shiva through that night. And she prayed that anyone doing Shiva puja during all four yamas of that night should be given every boon. Shiva acceded her request, naming the night Shivaratri. Shivaratri is of five kinds: nitya Shivaratri, paksha Shivaratri, masa Shivaratri, yoga Shivaratri, and Maha Shivaratri. Nitya Shivaratri is on chaturdasi, fourteenth day, after each amavasya (new moon) and pournami (full moon). There are 24 Nitya Shivaratri in a year. Paksha Shivaratri is Shiva worship for 13 days from the day after pournami in Thai. Masa Shivaratri is on krishna paksha chaturdasi each month. Yoga Shivaratri occurs each month on the Monday that is chaturdasi from sunrise to 10 in the morning or is an amavasya for twentyfour hours from sunrise. Maha Shivratri is at midnight on chaturdasi, fourteenth day, in krishna paksha in the month Masi. The auspicious time is between midnight and one in the morning when the Lord manifested before Parvati in the form of Shivalinga. According to agamas, the Shivaratri where the day is trayodasi and the night chaturdasi is the most exalted; it is of the middle kind if it is not even to a little extent trayodasi; and least exalted when the day is tinged with amavasya.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Perched precariously on the edge of a 3,000 feet high cliff in Paro Valley, is one of the holiest places in Bhutan.

Tiger’s Nest Monastery

Perched precariously on the edge of a 3,000 feet high cliff in Paro Valley, is one of the holiest places in Bhutan.


 
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