Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival which is celebrated every year to celebrate the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva. Shivratri falls on the 14th day/13th night in lunar month in late winter (February or March) or before spring. It marks the “Great Night of Shiva”. It is a leading Hindu festival which marks “overcoming ignorance and darkness” in the world and in life. It is celebrated by chanting the name of Shiva, fasting, meditation, yoga on virtues and ethics, like honesty, self-restraint, forgiveness, non-injury to others, and discovery of Lord Shiva. The devotees awake full night and visit Shiva temples or Jyotirlingams.
Unlike a lot of Hindu festivals celebrated in day time, Maha Shivratri is the festival celebrated at night. The celebration includes Jaagran, all night prayers, and vigil as this night marks “overcoming ignorance and darkness” in the world by Lord Shiva. Milk, fruits, leaves, and sweets are offered to Lord Shiva and some of the devotees perform fasting all day with Tantrik or vedic worship. Some also perform meditative Yoga. The sacred mantra of Lord Shiva, “Om Namah Shivaay” is chanted along the day in Shiva temples. The festival is celebrated in 3 or 10 days according to Hindu luni-solar calendar. Shivratri falls in every lunar month. But the main festival, Maha Shivaratri falls on 14th day of Magha (Phalguna) and on 13th night (waning moon). The day is celebrated either in February or March in Gregorian calendar.
Maha Shivratri in India
The Mandi fair is well known as a venue for celebrating Maha Shivratri. The town of Mandi is flooded with devotees. It is a common belief that all the 200+ gods and goddesses in this area, flock here on this event. Positioned on the banks of River Beas, Mandi is well known for being the “Cathedral of Temples” and is among the ancient towns of Himachal Pradesh with up to 81 temples of various Gods and Goddesses.
In Kashmir Shaivism, Maha Shivratri is the most popular and valuable festival. It is commemorated as the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The festival starts around 3 to 4 days in advance and lasts 2 days after the day.
There is no lack of followers of Lord Shiva in Central India. Maha kaleshwar Temple in Ujjain is among the most venerated shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva where huge congregation of devotees flock here to offer prayers on Maha Shivratri. It is celebrated basically in temples all around Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Telangana and Tamil Nadu.
Maha Shivratri Date, Vrat Puja Shubh Muhurat Time
Friday 24th February 2017
Nishita Kaal Puja Time = 00:08 am 25-Feb to 00:59 am 25-Feb
Nishita Kaal Puja Duration = 0 Hours 50 Mins
On 25th Feb, Maha Shivaratri Parana Time = 06:54 to 15:24
Ratri First Prahar Puja Time = 6:13 pm 24 Feb to 9:23 pm 24 Feb
Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time = 9:23 pm 24 Feb to 00:33 am 25 Feb
Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time = 00:33 am 25 Feb to 03:44 am 25 Feb
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time = 03:44 am 25 Feb to 06:54 am 25 Feb
Chaturdashi Date Begins = 9:38 pm on 24-Feb-2017
Chaturdashi Date Ends = 9:20 pm on 25-Feb-2017
Maha Shivratri in Nepal
The festival of Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in temples across Nepal, particularly Pashupatinath Temple. Hundreds of thousands of devotees visit the world-renowned Shiva Shakti Peetham. The army parades across the Kathmandu city to pay tribute to Shiva and the pilgrims perform holy rituals all around the country. Artists perform various dance forms all night. Unmarried women pray at the temples for the husband like Lord Shiva (an ideal husband), and married women pray for the good health and well-being of their husbands.