Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in the honor of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction. Shivratri is celebrated every month of the lunisolar calendar following the Hindu calendar, but once a year in late winter, Mahashivratri is celebrated to commemorate the oncoming summer. Mahashivratri translates as the great night of Lord Shiva and according to legends, it is on this night that Lord Shiva performs his heavenly dance or Tandav representing creation, preservation, and destruction as per many, it is also the day when Shiva and Parvati got married. Thus, the union of Prakriti and Purusha for the well-being of the world.
1. Devi Sati’s Marriage to Lord Shiva
Devi Sati, was the daughter of the great king and the son of Lord Brahma, Prajapati Daksha, Sati, being an incarnation of shakti was destined to unite with Shiva for the welfare of the universe. However, Daksha did not want his daughter Sati to marry Shiva as he considered Shiva, to be a dirty ascetic, unworthy of being a god, or being married to his daughter from a noble family.
Sati however, disobeyed her father and married Shiva. After her marriage, she moved to her husband’s abode - the Kailash mountains. Once Prajapati Daksha organized a sacrificial ceremony, also known as a Yagya, and invited all gods and devas to attend his grand Yagya due to his hatred towards Shiva. He did not invite both Shiva and his daughter Sati to the Yagya.
2. Devi Sati’s Self Immolation
When Sati came to hear of the Yagya being organized by her father through Narada Muni, she longed to go home and attend it. Shiva tried to talk her out of the idea, trying to explain that they had not been invited, and it was obvious that the king did not want them there, but Sati ignored her husband’s advice and went to the Yagya by herself. Upon reaching she felt deeply saddened to see that no one except her mother Prasuti was delighted to see her, not even her father Daksha.
She realized that she was now unwelcomed in her own house. Daksha was furious at her uninvited arrival and humiliated her and mocked Shiva. Daksha began insulting Shiva in front of all his guests and Sati could not bear any insults toward her husband wanting to break all ties with her father and uphold the honor of her husband, Sati self-immolated herself. Deeply hurt by the loss of his beloved wife, Shiva performed the destructive Tandav dance, he created two ferocious creatures, Veera Bhadra and Bhadra kali, who wreaked mayhem at the sacrificial place. Nearly all those present were felled overnight. Daksha was decapitated by Veera Bhadra after that night Shiva, who is considered the all-forgiving restored, all those who were slain to life and granted them his blessings.
3. Devi Parvati’s Penance to Marry Lord Shiva
Daksha was also restored to his life and kingship. His severed head was substituted for that of a goat. After the death of his first wife, Sati, Shiva, withdrew himself from society and then engrossed himself in deep meditation. Taking advantage of the situation, the asura king Tarakasur secured a boon from Lord Brahma that he could only be killed by the son of Shiva believing himself effectively immortal Tarakasur terrorized the beings of the universe and defeated the gods.
Meanwhile, Parvati the reincarnation of Sati was born to Himawan, the god of the Himalayas, and his wife Meena. When Parvati grew up, sage Narada told her that she was born to marry Shiva, but she would have to follow the path of penance to please Shiva, as he had withdrawn himself from worldly affairs and determined to marry Shiva in her new birth as well. Parvati embarked upon an extremely difficult regime of penance and devotion.
4. Lord Siva’s Test of Devi Parvati
For thousands of years, she only ate fruits and flowers thereafter, for hundreds of years, she ate only fallen leaves eventually giving up on all food and living on air to survive. Due to thousands of years of severe penance, her body became extremely weak and fragile. The news of her penance spread all over the world.
In the end, Lord Brahma appeared in front of Parvati and told her that no one in the entire universe had observed or done Tapasya or penance, the way she did, not even Shiva. He blessed her to soon be married to Lord Shiva and gave her the name Brahmacharini for her immense determination and penance Ma Bramhacharini is also the second form of Ma Durga celebrated on the second day of Navratri. On the other hand, in desperate need of help from Shiva to have his child, who could bring an end to the demon Tarakasur, the god sent Kambadev, the god of love to disrupt Shiva’s meditation, though Shiva was awakened by Kamadeva's arrow Kamadeva was burnt up by Shiva’s Anger implored by the other gods to marry Shiva agreed but decided to test Parvati’s devotion first, Shiva disguised himself as a hermit and reached the place where Parvati was engrossed in her penance.
5. Lord Shiva’s Marriage to Devi Parvati
Upon being there, he began criticizing Shiva. He tried to influence Parvati into giving up her Tapasya for Shiva, who, he said, was an embodiment of inauspiciousness, who carries skulls in his hand and who lives in a crematorium. Parvati angry by the comments of the hermit asks him to leave her alone. Even after many attempts at changing her mind, Parvati did not get affected. Her unwavering sense of devotion pleased Lord Shiva, and he appeared in his original form and blessed her to be married to him. On the day of the marriage.
Shiva reaches king Heemavan’s palace in the most air-rising form, along with the strangest marriage procession, also known as Baraat. His body was covered with snakes smeared in ashes, and his hair was matted with unkempt locks. His marriage procession consisted of ghosts, ascetics, sages, Agori, etc.
Upon seeing the terrorizing form of Lord Shiva Parvati's, mother and other relatives were left in a state of shock, most of them fainted out of fear and terror. To avoid any embarrassment to her family or her husband, Shiva, Parvati transformed herself into a different form as well, in this form, she was golden, possessed ten arms, and was called Chandraghanta. In the form of Chandraghanta, she prayed and persuaded Shiva to take the form of a handsome prince and also turn his marriage procession nobler so the people can see their gentler side and not be fearful of them.
6. Mahashivratri: The Day of Marriage
Shiva and Parvati got married in their beautiful divine forms and the day of their marriage is celebrated as Mahashivratri every year. Skanda Purana also narrates the story of when the divine wedding of Shiva and Parvati took place in the Himalayas all the living beings on earth, headed to the north, towards the great white mountains, to witness the grand wedding because this earth began losing her balance. So, Lord Shiva asked sage Agastya to go to the south to balance the earth’s equilibrium.
Sage Agastya was pleased with this honor but was also saddened because he would not be able to witness the divine wedding, perceiving the thoughts in the Rishi’s mind. Shiva granted him a boon that he and Parvati would appear before Agastya whenever the latter happened to think of them. Pleased with the boon sage Agastya began his journey southward.