Maha Sivaratri (Gujarati:મહાસીવ્રાત્રી | Hindi:महासिवरात्रि | Kannada:ಮಹಾಶಿವರಾತ್ರಿ | Marathi:महासिव्रत्री | Tamil:மகாசிவரற்றி | Telugu:మహాశివరాత్రి) means ‘Night of the Shiva’ and it is believed to be the day when Lord Shiva married Parvati. The festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated all over the country, and in different places and ways in different states.
Maha Shivaratri Pooja Timings
|Nishita Kall Pooja Time||00:12 to 01:01 (0:48 minutes)|
|Next Day Maha Shivaratri Parana||After 06:43 AM|
|Sivaratri First Prahar Pooja||18:18 PM||21:23 PM|
|Sivaratri Second Prahar Pooja||21:23 PM||00:28 AM|
|Sivaratri First Prahar Pooja||00:28 AM||03:33 AM|
|Sivaratri First Prahar Pooja||03:33 AM||06:38 AM|
According to astrology, moon becomes debilitated on Chaturdashi. Moon does not have the strength to give energy to this earth. Moreover till Maha Shivaratri, Surya Dev also reaches Uttarayana.
This is also a time of season change. Hence, this time period is considered auspicious. It is a time for welcoming the spring season. Spring season fills mind with joy and passion. Kamdev also develops during this time. The cupid emotions generated during this time can be controlled only by worshipping lord. It is best to worship lord Shiva during this time. According to astrology, the 12 Jyotirlinga have relation with the 12 Moon Sign.
It is said the Shivaratri is considered the best when it has the touch of Trayodashi, Chaturdashi and Amavasya date. There are many beliefs about Maha Shivaratri.
Lord Shiva makes a link between destruction and resettlement of universe. Holocaust means sadness and re-establishment means happiness. According to astrology, lord Shiva is considered the giver of happiness
- Maha Shivaratri is not only a ritual but also a cosmic definition of the Hindu universe. It dispels ignorance, emanates the light of knowledge, makes one aware of the universe, ushers in the spring after the cold and dry winter, and invokes the supreme power to take cognizance of the beings that were created by him.
- Festival of Shivaratri is not a mere presentation. Nor it is celebrated by seeing others. It is a great festival and hence, it is called Mahashivaratri. Shivaratri is also called Maha kal. Out of the three forms of God, one is worshipped on Mahashivaratri. Human being has got special boon of worshipping one form of lord in an easy manner on Mahashivaratri.
- Goswami Tulsidas quoted lord Ram’s words about this festival:-
“शिवद्रोही मम दास कहावा। सो नर सपनेहु मोहि नहिं भावा।“
Importance of this fast is described more in Shiva Sagar.
“धारयत्यखिलं दैवत्यं विष्णु विरंचि शक्तिसंयुतम। जगदस्तित्वं यंत्रमंत्रं नमामि तंत्रात्मकं शिवम।“
Meaning: – The one because of whom various powers, lord Vishnu and Brahma are seated in form of different God and Goddess. Because of whom the world exists. Who is Yantra, Mantra? I bow down to lord Shiva seated in form of this Tantra (system).
- Marriage of Shiva and Shakti: One of the most popular legends of Maha Shivratri is related to the marriage of Shiva and Shakti. The day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivratri – the Night of Lord Shiva. It tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. There is another version of the legend, according to which Goddess Parvati performed tapas and prayers on the auspicious moonless night of Shivratri, for the well being of her husband. Believing in this legend, married women began the custom of praying for the well being of their husbands and sons on Maha Shivratri, while, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, who is considered to be the ideal partner.
- Samudra Manthan: There is another very popular Shivratri legend from Puranas, which explains why people stay awake all night on Shivratri and why Lord Shiva is also known as Neelakantha. According to the story, when the battle between devas and asuras took place, a pot of poison came out of the ocean and on the request of gods, Lord Shiva drank the poison. The poison was so potent that it changed the color of His neck to blue. For this reason, Lord Shiva is also called Neelkanth, where ‘Neela’ means blue and ‘Kantha’ means neck or throat. As part of the therapy, Lord Shiva was advised to awake during the night. Thus, to keep Shiva awake, the gods performed various dances and played music. Pleased with their devotion, He blessed them all, the next morning. Therefore, Shivratri is the celebration of this event in which Lord Shiva saved the world.
- Legend of Shiva Linga: The legend of Shiva Linga is also deeply related to Maha Shivratri. According to the story, Brahma and Vishnu searched hard to discover the Aadi (beginning) and the Antha (end) of Lord Shiva. It has been believed that on the 14th day in the dark fortnight of the month of Phalguna, Shiva first manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Since then, the day is considered to be extremely auspicious and is celebrated as Maha Shivratri – the grand night of Shiva. To celebrate this occasion, devotees of Lord Shiva keeps fast during the day and worship the Lord throughout the night. It is said that worshipping Lord Shiva on Shivratri bestows one with happiness and prosperity.
- Legend of Ganga: The legend of Ganga is another popular legend which is related to Shivratri. Ganga’s descent from the heavens to the earth has been narrated in the Hindu mythological epic of Ramayana. This legend explains the popular custom of giving bath to Shiv Linga on Shivratri festival. According to this legend, Lord Shiva held out his thick matted hair to catch the river ganga, as she descended from heaven. The meandering through Shiva’s lock softened Ganga’s journey to the earth and the holy waters washed away the ashes of Bhagirath’s ancestors. The Ganga, thus, became an attribute of Shiva and therefore Shiva is also known as Gangadhara. Believing in this legend, Shiva is given a bath with gangajal and devotees take a dip in the holy water of river Ganga, on Shivratri.
Cultures , Rituals and Festive.
Various traditions and customs related to Shivaratri Festival are dutifully followed by the worshippers of Lord Shiva. Devotees observe strict fast in honour of Shiva, though many go on a diet of fruits and milk some do not consume even a drop of water. Devotees strongly believe that sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivaratri, absolves a person of sins and liberates him from the cycle of birth and death. Shivaratri is considered especially auspicious for women. While married women pray for the well being of their husbands unmarried women pray for a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ideal husband.
To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc.
On Shivaratri, worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the day and night. Every three hours priests perform ritual pooja of Shivalingam by bathing it with milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar and water amidst the chanting of “Om Namah Shivaya’ and ringing of temple bells. Nightlong vigil or jaagran is also observed in Shiva temples where large number of devotees spends the night singing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. It is only on the following morning that devotee break their fast by partaking Prasad offered to the deity.
Maha Shivaratri Celebrations in various states, grouped under Six major regions of India:
- Andhra Pradesh
Many of the Lord Shiva devotees visit the famous temples of Lord Shiva in Kalahasteshwara temple in Kalahasti and Bharamarambha Malikarjunaswamy in Srisailam on this auspicious day of Maha Shivratri in Andhra Pradesh. People perform abhishekam to shiva linga and offer shiva puja lord shiva at shiva temples.
The main attraction of Sivaratri celebrations at Srisailam is Lingodbhava Maha Rudrabhishekam wherein 11 priests conduct rituals for three hours after 10 p.m. Parallel to it, Pagalankarana (tying of loin cloth) around the temple towers is performed. The family of Pridvi Venkateswarlu from Prakasam district donates the cloth every year. The Sivaratri celebrations conclude with Kalyanotsavam around midnight.
According to legend the five pieces of shiva linga were made into temples at different locations in Andhra Pradesh and these shiva temples are called Pancharamams as Amararama in Amaravathi in Guntur district, Kumararama in Samalkota in east godavari district , Somarama in Bhimavaram, Draksharama in Draksharamam, and Ksheerarama located in Palakol in west godavari district are the Pancharams of shiva temples in Andhra Pradesh where Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated to great devotion by Lord Shiva devotees
In Kerala, Shivaratri is celebrated with great display and Aluva Shiva Temple, the bank of the river Periyar. Maha Shivratri festival in kerala falls on the Krishna Chathurdasi day, on the 14th night of the new moon during the dark half in the month of Megha or sometimes in Phalguna also.
On the day of Shivratri in Kerala, a three-tiered platform is built around a fire. The topmost plank represents heaven, the middle one space and the bottom one earth. Eleven urns or kalash, are kept on the heaven plank symbolizing the eleven manifestations of the Rudra Shiva. These are decorated with bilva (woodapple leaves) and mango leaves atop a coconut representing the head of Shiva. The uncut shank of the coconut symbolizes his tangled hair and the three spots on the fruit Shiva’s three eyes.
Maha Sivarathri festival in Kerala is celebrated at Alluva Shiva temple with the gaiety of the festivals like Ashtami at Vaikom, Pooram at Thrissur. This festival is celebrated on the bank of River Periyar. The lingam of Shiva here arises out of the sand of the River. Thousand of devotees come to this Shiva temple at the time of Shivaratri festival where many shows and dances are performed.
During the festival of Maha Shivratri in Karnataka state, temples of Nanjangud and Srikanteshwara Someshwara Temple of Bangalore are the most celebrated temples of Maha Shivratri which attracts many devotees. Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion in Karnataka where a grand fair of Sri Shidlingappa is observed to mark the auspicious occasion. Deity is taken to the river in a palanquin accompanied by drummers (Dollu and Majalu) from several neighboring and is then worshipped.
People of the Shiva cult, worship Linga on Shivaratri. As a tradition, married women wear a silver or gold linga on their body. In southern Karnataka, children make believe that they are kings and dole out punishments to all and sundry. This particular tradition is based on the mythological legend related with Shivaratri that narrates the story of Shiva punishing Brahma for lying about measuring the length of Linga.
In Tamil Nadu state, Maha Shivaratri festival is celebrated in the famous temple of Chidambaram and Rameshwaram Temples. People of Tamilnadu also observe the fast like all other regions and worship Lord Shiva whole day and night.
In tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim the great “Mahashivaratri” is being observed since many decades at various Shivalayas in traditional way, the people from all walks of life gathers at the Shivalaya during this holy day. In Janakshwar Shivalaya mandir a day long programme is being organised by the residential committee, the programme shall start with a puja at 09:00 AM, Rudraabhishek at 11:00 AM, Aaarti at 02:00 PM and Maha Bhandara will be organised.
The festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated by Jagatguru Vamacharya Sewak Sanjaynath since year 1989 at Raxaul with great pomp and show.When the Sewak Sanjaynath Tantrik Kali Mandir was built in 1993 since then the great Maha Shivaratri celebrations at the temple are one of its own kind in all over North Bihar.
From morning 6 AM devotees start gathering in the temple premises. An Akhand rudrabhishek (Continuous Shiva Lingam Bathing), Akhand astayaam (Continuous Chanting Shiva Mantra), Akhand bhandara (Continuous Feast for devotees) is organised by the Sewak Sanjaynath Kali Trust.
Every year on Maha Shivaratri a procession is also organised. In the Procession there is a display of Lord Shiva’s family and also the Shiva Barat is potrayed.God and Goddesses Vishnu, Laxmi, Brahma and Saraswati are also enacted by Sewak Sanjaynath Kali Nyas Vidhalay students in the procession.
There is a belief that couples who are not able to give birth to a male child, when come to this temple on Maha Shivaratri and attend the Akhand Rudrabhishek for the whole night. They are blessed by Lord Shiva’s blessing and soon are able to give birth to the desired baby.
Also those people who have Kaal Sarp Dosh in their Kundali, if donate Golden or silver Snake in the temple, their sufferings and doshas are removed.
There is a huge crowd for viewing the famous BHASMA ARTI done by Jagatguru Vamacharya himself on Maha Shivaratri. During Bhasma Arti the shiv lingam is bathed by holy Ganges water, Milk, Curd, Ghee, Honey and Sugar. After this the Shiva Singaar is done by using silver patr, flowers, colours, ornaments etc. Then the Bhasma arti is performed. This type of Bhasma Arti is done only at two temples all over the world. One is at Maha Kaal Temple Ujjain and other is only at Sewak Sanjaynath Tantrik Kali Mandir..
In Bhubaneswar lakhs of devotees throng the famous Lingaraj Temple to offer puja in the 11th century shrine. Governor M C Bhandare also visited the temple in the morning and offered prayers. On this special occasion, Lord Shiva at Akhandalmani temple wore a glittery look as the deity was decked with gold ornaments. The famous Lord Chandrasekhar temple at Kapilas in Dhenkanal registered huge attendance on this occasion; Similarly, devotees from far flung areas also visited the Lord Dhabaleswar temple near Athagarh in Cuttack district. Lokanath temple in Puri also witnessed heavy rush of devotees Cuttack, devotees in large numbers thronged the famous Asthasambhu temple, Beleswar temple and Dhabaleswar since the wee hours of the day to offer puja.
- West Bengal
In the state of West Bengal the festival of Maha Shivaratri is performed with great devotion and enthusiasm. On a Shivaratri day, devotees in West Bengal fast through out the day. Following the tradition, they also make four Shivlings made of clay of the holy river Ganga. These Shivlings are later offered in puja in four “prahars” (a meassure of time equal to 3 hours) of the night. In the first prahar one of the shivalings is bathed in milk. In the second period it is bathed with curd, in the third with ghee and in the fourth with honey. The devotees also stay awake the all – through the Shivaratri night. The following morning, they pray, listen to religious discourses, feed the Brahmins, offer them dakshina (alms) and finally break their fast with prasad.
At some places in West Bengal, Mahashivratri celebrations are confined to the Shiva temples. Women visit the temple carrying a copper vessel containing milk and water. They also carry with them leaves of woodapple tree, a wood apple, fruits and flowers and a lamp. As a tradition followed in many places, devotees bathe Shiva Linga with water mixed with milk. Puja is performed and fruits and flowers are offered. After Puja they return home to break their fast with fruits.
At the temple of Tarakeshwar, 57 km from Kolkata, bare-footed pilgrims carry containers filled with the sacred water of river Ganga to pour over the stone image of the Lord and decorate the granite Lingam with garlands and flowers, as a mark of their devotion.
The biggest festival in upper Assam’s Sivasagar district is Maha Shivaratri. Irrespective of their cast, creed, religion and identity takes part the Maha Shivaratri , though not in the religious rituals they take part in the huge mela in the Shiva Dol(Shiva Temple) during the Maha Shivaratri days. In Sivasagar Shivaratri is a Grand three day Maha Shivaratri affair which sometimes spreads to the fourth day.
The district Administration of Sivasagar announces a local holiday during this three day affair apart from the calendar holiday for the offices that are situated in the middle of Sivasagar town.
Shiva Dol in Sivagar district of Assam is one of the most widely celebrated pilgrim’s attractions. Devotees of Lord Shiva across the world vouch for the spirituality of this temple. Ahom Swargadeo (King) Pramatta Singha had made this Temple after he conversed himself to Shaivism. The beautiful Shiva Dol with its dazzling Kalasi made of Gold is the attraction of lakhs of tourists and pilgrims across the world.
- Jammu & Kashmir
The folks in Jammu and Kashmir celebrate Maha Shivaratri as the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati, with all faervour and gaiety.
The migrant Kashmiri Pandit community, which observes Shivratri as the main religious festival, offers prayers throughout the night and celebrate the day extending wishes to relatives, friends and dear ones. It being an official holiday in the state, the Shiva temples across the region witnesses a huge rush of devotees throughout the day.
Despite inclement weather, devotees throngs at famous Shiv Khori cave shrine in Reasi tehsil, about 120 km from Jammu, where a three-day festival is being held as a part of celebrations. The ancient Sudh Mahadev temple, 120 km from Jammu, in Udhampur district was also one of the main pilgrim destinations for the devotees.
All major Shiva temples, including Ranvirashwar temple, Pir Kho temple, Aap Shambu, Shiva-Parvati Dham, in the winter capital city pack with large number of devotees.
According to the Hindu calendar, the fourteenth day in the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalguna is celebrated as Maha Shivratri. People all across the country especially Delhi celebrate this day as one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals.
Maha Shivratri in Delhi fast includes devotees fasting during the day and keeping a vigil during the night. The festival involves enchanting verses from sacred Hindu texts, offering fruits and flowers to the deity, ringing bells in the temple and offering prayers to the god and most importantly presenting leaves and milk to the Shiva lingam. Devotees visit the Delhi temples to pay homage to Lord Shiva.
On this auspicious day, the Shiva lingam is bathed in the panchagavya which is a combination of five different offerings. Other offerings made to Lord Shiva include five kinds of food which symbolize immortality, milk, clarified butter, curd, honey and sugar. Some devotees are believed to offer Dhatura as well as Jati..
- Himachal Pradesh
Lord Shiva Maha Shivaratri in Himachal Pradesh is marked in a unique way, popularly known as Chhoti Kashi, as it sees a congregation of over 200 deities from hundreds of village temples. People chant Om Namah Shivaya which is a popular mantra in Hinduism and particularly in Shaivism.
The celebrations date back to 1526 when this town was founded during the rule of Ajbar Sen. He had ‘invited’ all the local deities to mark the founding of the new town. Since then, the assembly of deities from hundreds of village temples during Mahashivratri has become a tradition.
According to a legend, ruler Sen (1499-1534) saw in his dreams a cow offering milk to an idol of Lord Shiva. His dreams turned into reality when he himself saw the cow offering milk to an idol. He then constructed a temple there in 1526 – the Bhutnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. Simultaneously, the foundation of Mandi town was also laid and he shifted his capital here.
During the first day of the fair, Lord Madho Rai, an incarnate of Lord Vishnu and the chief deity, leads the procession. The assembled deities follow him in beautifully decorated palanquins, as per protocol, and assemble at the Bhutnath temple.T hree such processions, locally called Jaleb, would be taken out on the opening, middle and concluding days of the fair.
- Uttar Pradesh
Devotees of Shiva take holy bath at Sangam – the confluence of the three sacred rivers – Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati- with faith that all their sins in the past and present be washed away so that they can go to heaven after death. Magh Mela fair is also held in Allahabad
Since Varanasi is considered the city of Lord Shiva, Mahashivaratri festival holds immense importance here. Mahashivaratri (the great night of Shiva) falls on the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of Phalguna (February/March) and is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Mahashivaratri festival is purely religious in nature and observed by all Hindus. On the occasion of Mahashivaratri, all Shiva temples of Varanasi are tastefully decorated. On the day Of Mahashivaratri, a marriage procession of Lord Shiva is taken out starting from Mahamrityunjaya Temple, Daranagar to Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
In Varanasi, people visit nearby temples of Shiva and offer prayers in large numbers. The prayers and worship continue late into the night. On Mahashivaratri, devotees offer milk, Bhang, Dhatura, flowers, coconut, fruits etc to Shiva statues and Shiva Lingams and sing bhajans in honor of Shiva. They also recite shlokas (verses) from scriptures, offer prayers in the morning and evening and many devotees observe fasting throughout the day. On the day of Mahashivaratri, the main center of religious activity and worship at Varanasi is the Kashi Vishvanath temple, where devotees throng in large numbers to offer prayers to the residing deity of Varanasi, Lord Shiva
The festival of Shivratri is celebrated throughout the state of Gujarat and is also known by the name of “Mahashivratri” – the celebrations go with divinity, fasting and offering milk and bilwa leaves to Lord Shiva.
During Shivratri, Somnath Temple festival is the tourist attraction and a place for pilgrimage as scores of people of all faith visit the temple to worship Lord Shiva. A major festival is held at Somnath during Mahashivratri which coincide with the Kutchh Desert festival held at the same time.
Also in Gujarat, Bhavnath Festival is celebrated during Mahashivratri. Situated at the foot of Mount Girnar in Junagadh, the Shiv Temple ‘Vastrapata Kshetra’ celebrates the vitality of the Shiva cult. A five day festival, on this day prayers are offered to the Lord Shiv, after the devotees take a dip in the holy ‘mrig Kunda.’ Over thousands of pilgrims come to this holy shrine. Prior to the start of Mahapuja, a huge procession gets started. This procession is headed by the ‘Naga Bavas’ who ride on elephant back with a flag in their hands followed by cultural programs. Folk songs and folk dance forms a part of the tourist attractions. Bhavai, a typical Gujarati folk dance, folk songs and folk dances attracts a large audience to gather in this place during the Bhavnath Festival of Gujarat.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with a lot of fanfare in Rajasthan. A large number of devotees observe strict fast on the day. They also believe that an earnest and honest celebration of the festival will give them a respite of al their sins. This festival is mostly celebrated by women of the Hindu community. After fasting for the whole day, they devotedly pray to the God. Married women perform these rituals to pray for the well being of their husbands. Unmarried girls perform these rituals to pray for husband like Lord Shiva.
On this day, Lord Shiva is bathed in milk and honey. They also offer bilwal leaves and flowers while chanting Om Namay Shivay. Some of the Lord Shibva temples also observe Jaagaran during the whole bight of Mahashivaratri. After day break, the various foods offered to the Lord are eaten by the devotees as ‘prasad’.
- Madhya Pradesh
Shivaratri is celebrated with religious fervor in the state of Madhya Pradesh. As a tradition, people in Madhya Pradesh take a holy dip in Sagar tank in Khajuraho. The place houses a beautiful Shiva temple.
Bundelkhand Region, which has a stronghold of Shaivites hosts the biggest Shivaratri celebrations in the state. A large number of Lord Shiva devotees flock the Matangeshwar Temple and worship throughout the night. Highpoint of the Shivaratri celebrations at the Matangeshwar Temple is the 10-day-long fair that witness the participation of traders, peddlers and gypsies from other parts of the state. Display of traditional fare and a variety of handicrafts besides the rural circus show, magic shows, folk theatre, and merry-go-rounds add to the excitement.
In Maharashtra on this day of Shivratri every temple of Lord Shiva resounds with Vedic mantras and shlokas. These are recited during the Lord Shiva’s “Abhishekh” which is the ritual bath given to the Shiva-Lingam. Fasting is observed, night vigil is kept, alms, food and sweets are distributed amongst the poor.