Shivaratri is the day of Lord Shiva. Shiva is the lord of meditation and, therefore, the lord of awakening.
Shiva is called Mahakala — grand time. Shivam also means innocent. Shiva is a very simple Lord, but in this simplicity there is a deep message.
Shiva, in His Nataraja form, symbolises the union of nature and the Divine. Natraja holds fire in one hand, representing the fire element. A damru (conical musical instrument) in the other hand depicts the space element. Shiva’s hair is open and flying, representing the air element.
One foot on the ground symbolises prithvi (earth element), another in the air. One hand is the symbolic abhaya hasta offering protection and the other points to his feet symbolising surrender. With one foot already in the air, he has already taken a step towards the devotee. He says, “You are dear to me” even before beginning.
Shiva is dancing. Life should be like this. If both feet are stuck in the ground, then you cannot dance. Even to walk, you need to take one foot up.
Underneath his feet, there is Apasmaar (demon representing ignorance.) He is standing with his foot on top of desires. Only when we rise above desires, then it is a dance of joy and bliss. The Divine energy pervading the entire creation is eternally dancing.
Shiva represents Ananda Tattva (bliss) that the whole world longs for. We can only know the secret of Shiv tattva by going within. Feeling His presence all the time is the essence of Shivaratri. It is an occasion to awaken one’s self from slumber. It signifies being aware of everything you have and being grateful about it.
Be grateful for the happiness which leads to growth, and also for sadness which gives depth to life. You have to surrender the positives and negatives of your life to Shiva and become carefree! The greatest offering is yourself and the greatest power is in surrendering to the divine. This is the right way of observing Shivaratri.