The festival of Maha Shivratri is observed in February or March every year depending upon the planetary position — this year it falls on February 18. It is a significant event for Shiva’s devotees all over the world not only because it is auspicious, but also because it allows people to pray to God and ask Him to forgive them of their sins. As a result, whether you live in Asia or the Western part of the world, if you are a Shiva devotee, the day must be celebrated! Praying, feasting, giving gifts to several people, and honoring Shiva for his blessings are all part of the celebration.
History of Maha Shivratri
Since there are numerous gods in Hinduism, the religion also has several important festivals. One of these is Maha Shivratri — a day dedicated to Lord Shiva, the God of destruction. The festival originated in the 5th century A.D. and is still ruling the hearts of Shiva devotees due to its religious relevance.
Do you, however, understand what Maha Shivratri means? It translates as ‘the great night of Shiva’. The night is known as a great night because according to legend, on this day Lord Shiva performed his heavenly dance or ‘tandava’.
In Hinduism, the festival marks the remembrance of overcoming darkness and ignorance in life. According to another legend, it is said that on this night, offerings of Lord Shiva’s icons can help one overcome and let go of their sins. Once this is done, the individual can start walking on the path of righteousness, and achieve ‘moksha’.
It is customary to pray to the Lord’s shivling, during the festival. This is an icon that represents the union of mind and soul and is associated with Lord Shiva. On the other hand, its physical appearance represents male and female reproductive organ’s in a state of bliss. The upper part of the shivling represents the phallus or the male organ whereas the base of the shivling represents the vulva. The reason for the organ’s visual representation could be related to the fact that the world is balanced by masculine and feminine energies.
Maha Shivratri timeline
Hindu practice begins in the Indus River Valley civilization.
Ashoka becomes Emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty.
Hinduism becomes the dominant religion of India.
Mahatma Gandhi influences Hinduism in India.
Maha Shivratri FAQs
Which color should be worn on Shivratri?
On this day, devotees wear the color green.
What is the difference between Shivratri and Maha Shivratri?
Shivratri is celebrated every month, whereas Maha Shivratri is celebrated only once a year. Shivratri is celebrated on the 14th day of each lunar month. So, in a calendar year, twelve Shivratris occur a day before the new moon.
Is Maha Shivratri a good day?
Maha Shivratri is an auspicious day for both the devotees as well as others.
How to Celebrate Maha Shivratri
Visit a Shiva temple
The best way to commemorate the day is to pay a visit to a Shiva temple and remain close to the god being honored.
Keep a prayer at home
Keep a prayer or Pooja at home so you can spend some time with your loved ones and celebrate the day on your own terms.
To honor and remember Lord Shiva’s greatness, chant mantras that complement the god and ask for his mercy
5 Fun Facts About Maha Shivratri
Offerings to Shiva linga
Devotees of Shiva offer milk during the festival.
Devotees stay up and pray all night long on the festival.
Bathing the Shiva Linga
In some regions, devotees bathe the Shiva Linga as a part of the customs.
Shiva’s favorite flower
The flower Dhatura is offered to Shiva during the prayers to get rid of the poison of ego, rivalry, envy, and hatred.
Getting rid of sins
According to legend, offerings to the Shiva icon cleanses people of their sins.
Why Maha Shivratri is Important
It is a time for prayers
At this time of year, people gather in large numbers to pray and ask God for mercy and a brighter future.
Brings you close to God
Since the festival revolves around praying to God, many individuals begin to develop a connection with the almighty.
Cleanses the soul
Fasting and praying not only calm the mind but also cleanse the soul. It is a level of spirituality that is otherwise hard to attain.
Maha Shivratri dates