Mahashivratri 2024: Unique Offerings To Lord Shiva In Temples

Mahashivratri is among the festivals celebrated by Hindus with huge fervour and devotion. Believed to be the night when Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati, devotees around the world observe fast, offer him prasad, and visit temples. Pilgrim centres dedicated to Lord Shiva are adorned with flowers, organise feasts, and perform veneration seeking his blessings.

Feared as a destroyer, Lord Shiva is seen as a family man on Mahashivratri. The Great Night of Shiva, being celebrated on March 8, 2024, is when temples will echo with hymns, prayers, and chants. From bael leaves to datura, devotees and priests offer him his favourites, and in return, bless them. There are many temples in India and one in Nepal that offer unique prasad to Lord Shiva. Here is a look at how these pilgrim centres celebrate Mahashivratri.

Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi

Located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, Kashi Vishwanath Temple is among the important pilgrim centres for Hindus. It houses one among 12 Jyotirlingas that are scattered across India. On the occasion of Mahashivratri, the temple offers bhang, leaves of cannabis plant beaten into a paste and added to milk-based beverages. Along with it, priests also offer traditional sweets like peda and ladoo to God.

Mallikarjuna Temple, Srisailam

Located on the banks of the Krishna River, Mallikarjuna Temple in Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh, experiences a footfall of devotees every year, especially on Mahashivratri. It is believed that the site of the temple is where Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati appeared as Mallikarjuna and Bhramaramba to bless their devotees. The temple offers bellam pongali (sweet rice) and pulihora (tamarind rice) to the God and Goddess on the auspicious occasion.

Kotilingeshwara Temple, Kolar

In the Kolar district of Karnataka, Kotilingeshwara Temple is known for being the abode of a huge number of lingams. The meaning of the name translates to 10 million lingams. The ancient temple is a structure adorned with vibrant sculptures. On the occasion of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva is offered pongal, a popular dish in the state made with lentils and rice. Devotees also offer bananas to God.

Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu

Located in Kathmandu, Nepal, Pashupatinath Temple is where Lord Shiva is worshipped as the God of animals. Spanning over a vast area, the sanctum sanctorum has a huge lingam of Lord Pashupatinath where devotees seek his blessings and ask for a prosperous and healthy life. Since it is located near the Bagmati River, Lord Shiva is offered holy water from the water body along with seasonal fruits and sweets that are believed to be his favourites.

Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai

Arunachaleswarar Temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu. It is believed that lingal present in the temple self-manifested. Apart from Lord Shiva, the temple has shrines of Goddess Parvati, Lord Kartikey, and Lord Ganesha as well. During the auspicious celebrations of Mahashivratri, the God is offered bael leaves, vibhuti (sacred ash), ladoo and other sweets, rice pudding and savouries, panchamrit (made with milk, ghee, honey, curd, and sugar), and fruits.

Somnath Temple, Saurashtra

Situated in Saurashtra, Gujarat, is Somnath Temple boasting intricate sculptures and opulent architecture. It houses shrines of Goddess Parvati, Lord Vishnu, and Lord Ganesha as well. On Mahashivratri, the temple is decked up to welcome devotees from across the country seeking blessings of Lord Shiva. The God is offered his favourites like peda, ladoo, and bael leaves. Though most scriptures suggest that one must never offer coconut water to Lord Shiva, in this temple, God is presented with the beverage on Mahashivratri.