This extremely popular Shivaratri legend from Puranas clarifies why individuals stay awake throughout the night on Shivaratri. Additionally, it also explains to us why Lord Shiva is called as Neelakantha.
Legend Behind Samudra Manthan:
When Indra, the King of Gods, while riding on an elephant went over Durvasa Muni who offered him a special garland Indra accepted the garland however put in on the trunk of the elephant. The elephant was irritated by the scent and it tossed the garland on the floor. This irritated the wise as the garland was a residence of Sri (fortune) and was to be dealt with as prasada. Durvasa Muni reviled Indra and all devas to be dispossessed of all energy, strength, and fortune.
In battles that followed this incident, devas were destroyed and asuras (devils) drove by Bali picked up control of the universe. Devas looked for help from Lord Vishnu who asked them to treat asuras in a diplomatic way. Devas shaped a cooperation with asuras to mutually beat the sea for the nectar of everlasting life and to share it among them. Master Vishu told Devas that we would organize that they only get the nectar.
The Churning of the Ocean:
The churning of the milk – sea was an intricate procedure. Mount Mandara was utilized as churning rod and Vasuki, the King of Serpents, turned into the churning rope. Lord Vishnu himself needed to mediate in such a variety of approaches to help the Devas. A wide range of herbs were thrown into the sea and numerous extraordinary creatures and items were delivered from the sea and were partitioned between asuras and gods. It is said that following things rose up out of the Samudra Manthan.
Parijata flower a tree in the Paradise of Lord Indra
Sura or Varuni – Goddess and creator of wine
Apsaras for heaven (Rambha, Menaka, Punjisthala etc)
Dhanwantari the physician for all Gods
Sankha the conch of Lord Vishnu used for victory
Kaustubha – a rare diamond said to be the most valuable jewel in the world
Uchhaishravas – the divine white horse of Indra
Kalpavriksha – the wish-granting tree
Kamadhenu – the wish fulfilling cow
Airavata – the white elephant Lord indra Vahanam
Lakshmi – the Goddess of Fortune and Wealth. Vishnu and Her were reunited after having been separated for many ages.
Halahala – The Poison:
During the Sagar Manthan by the gods and devils, Halahala, a pot of poison additionally came out of the sea. This frightened the Gods and evil spirits as the poison was toxic to the point that it impacts would have wiped out the whole creation. On the advice of Lord Vishnu, Gods drew closer Lord Shiva for help and assurance as no one but he could swallow it without being influenced. On the solicitation of gods and out of empathy for living creatures, Lord Shiva drank the poison. However, Parvati – Lord Shiva’s wife squeezed his neck so that the poison does not reach his stomach. Consequently, it stayed in his throat neither going up nor going down and Shiva stayed unharmed. The poison was the reason that it changed the shade of Lord Mahadeva’s neck to blue. Hence, Lord Shiva is also called Neelakantha (the blue-necked one) where “Neela” implies blue and “Kantha” implies neck or throat.
As a component of the treatment, doctor’s advice gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. Hence, Gods kept a vigil in consideration of Lord Shiva. To delight Shiva and to keep him awake, the gods took turn performing different dances and playing music. As the day broke out, Lord Shiva satisfied with their devotion and blessed all of them. Shivaratri is the festival of this occasion by which Shiva saved the world. From that point forward, on this day and night – devotees fast, keep vigil, sing glories of Lord and meditate.
Churning Out Divine Nectar:
Finally, Dhanvantari – the Divine Physician showed up with a pot of Amrita (nectar of eternality) in his skilful hands. Wild battling followed between devas and asuras for the nectar. To shield the nectar from asuras, devas hid the pot of nectar at four spots on the earth – Prayag (Allahabad), Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. At each of these spots, a drop of the nectar spilled from the pot and from that point onwards, it is trusted that these spots gained mystical power. Fabulous Kumbh Mela is celebrated at the four spots after at regular intervals consequently.
In the end, Lord Vishnu appeared as a beautiful lady, Mohini. While her beauty bewildered the asuras, Mohini grabbed the nectar and returned it to the Devas, who drank it instantly.