Mahashivratri Date 2017
Friday 24 February
Mahashivratri – the Great Night of Lord Shiva- is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated all over India as well as by Hindu community living in other countries all around the world. Shivaratri is celebrated in the ‘Krishna Paksha’ (15 days period of a month of lunar calendar after which falls new moon day) of Falgun month on the day and night just before the ‘Amavasya’ or new moon day. This corresponds to the month of February-March of English Calendar.
Mahashivratri Festival Celebration and Rituals
Maha shivratri fast and worship of Shiva Linga through out the day and night are the most important aspects of this Hindu festival celebration. The devotees of Lord Shiva observe strict fast on the occasion of Shiva ratri. Some of them have only fruits and milk while some others do not have even water on this day which is called ‘Nirjala Upwaas’ (fast without even water).
People take early bath on the day of Mahashivaratri and go to temples of Lord Shiva in groups with milk, water, honey, fruits (especially bael fruit- stone apple), bael leaves to worship Lord Shiva. The devotees give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water etc. The worship of Lord Shiva continues the whole day and whole night of Mahashivaratri. In some Shiva temples, Jaagran (the nightlong vigil) is also observed where a large number of devotees perform hymns, mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivaye’ and sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Shiva. Next morning, the devotees observing shivratri fast break their fast by having the prasad offered to Lord Shiva. Prasad is all the food substances that is first offered to a deity and then eaten by devotees.
Importance of Maha Shivratri Rituals
Lord Shiva- commonly known as the ‘Destroyer’ from among the Hindu Deity Trinity ‘Trimurti’- is said to be the god of dance, goodness, humility, and every good quality a person should have. From among the Trinity ‘”Brahma-Vishnu-Maheshwara” (Maheshwara being Lord Shiva), Brahma is the creator of the world, Vishnu is the preserver of the world and Shiva is the destroyer or transformer of the world. According to the legends, He led a life of a sage in Mount Kailas and survived on whatever was discarded by others such as the skin of dead animals that he wore as clothes, had snake as his necklace, and was happy with the wild ‘Akand flowers’ (Crown flower) also called aankda flower and bael fruit, and bael leaves all of which came from wild trees. As such, the Maha Shivratri rituals too revolve around these so called wild and natural offerings to Lord Shiva which shows the significance of simplicity gaining place of prime honor. This can be understood from the substances used for the worship of Lord Shiva on the festival of Mahashivaratri
- Milk, water, honey- all natural things are used to bathe Shiva Lingam- the abstract form of Lord Shiva worshiped by his devotees. Its significance lies in representing purification of soul.
- Red sandalwood paste, vermilion, or saffron- used to mark ‘Tilak’ on Shiva linga represents the tilak of Lord Shiva’s forehead. Its significance lies in being the mark of spiritual devotion.
- Offering of wild fruits, leaves and flowers to Lord Shiva on Shivaratri signifies the respect for even the simplest thing provided by the nature.
- Burning the incense sticks represents the purification of surroundings.
There are many legends related to Maha Shivaratri- these are the ‘Mahashivratri katha’ or story narrated on this festival. The story in these legends may be different but the spirit of all these Mahashivratri legend stories are same. They all establish the supremacy of the ultimate power of Lord Shiva and his kindness in protecting his devotees. Some of the popular Maha shivaratri legends include the following stories that are also narrated during the worshiping and night vigil on Mahashivaratri.
- Legend Story of Lubdhaka
- Marriage of Shiva and Shakti
- Samudra Manthan
- Legend of Shiva Linga
- Legend of Ganga
Mahashivaratri SMS Greetings
Nowadays, the traditional festival of Mahashivratri too has gone modern and people love to send sms greetings and wishes to their friends and family who are also devotees of Lord Shiva. Get some of the very original Mahashivratri SMS greetings that you may send to your friends. Click to get Mahashivaratri SMS Greetings