The Lingam (an symbolic representation of Shiva used for worshipping in temples) is an impression of Hindu deity Lord Shiva. Lingam has been identified and related to the symbol of the male organ of creativity or phallus. However, most of the devotees still consider it to be the symbol of divine energy rather than being a symbol of sexual energy. The origin of Shiva’s Lingam has a great legend associated with it The legend revolves around Vishnu and Brahma’s search to discover the Aadi (beginning) and Anth (end) of the deity. The story can be read in three most famous puranas (book consisting religious text) i.e. the Vaayu Puran, the Kurma Puran and the Shiva Puran.
As the legend says, once Vishnu (the sustainer) and Brahma (the creator) had an altercation between them over who is the supreme power. Intimidated by their fights, other gods went and asked Shiva (the destroyer) to intervene. To make them realize the futility of their squabble, Shiva took the form of a flaming Lingam and came in between Vishnu and Brahma. He challenged both Brahma and Vishnu to measure the gigantic flamed Linga. They both were mesmerized with the magnitude of the lingam. They decided to measure it and thus Vishnu took the form of a boar and Brahma took the form of a Swan. Lord Brahma, went upwards to the sky to measure it from there, and Vishnu is a boar went deep inside the earth. Both continued with their search for miles and miles for the lingam’s beginning and end, but all in vain.
On his way to the earth, Brahma met Ketaki (screw pine) flower, and asked it to tell Vishnu, that he met him at the top of the Lingam. He Ketaki was believed to live on top of the Lingam, so, if it could act as witness, Shiva would believe that Brahma actually reached the top. As per the discussion between them, Ketaki flower and Lord Brahma came and confronted Vishnu and asserted that Brahma was the one who discovered the origin of this cosmic column. At the same time, the phallus was split wide open from the middle and Lord Shiva came in front of both of them with his full grandeur. Both Brahma and Vishnu bowed before him and thus accepted him as the supreme Lord among them. Then, Lord Shiva told them that they were a part of him only and later they were divided into three different divine powers.
Deeply infuriated over the lie that Brahma told in front of him, he cursed Brahma that no one would ever pray to him. Lord Shiva punished Ketaki Flower too for supporting Brahma’s lie and cursed it too. As a result, the flower is not used in any propitious activities. He blessed Lord Vishnu that it would be he would be worshipped after him. Since this incident took place on the 14th of a month, this day, every year is celebrated as the MahaShivratri- the ostentatious and illustrious night of Lord Shiva. In order to celebrate the occasion, a fast is kept during the day. Prayers to Lord Shiva are offered throughout the night. It is believed that Lord Shiva bestows everyone with happiness and prosperity.
Om Namah Shivay!