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The Great Night of Shiva

The Great Night of Shiva

Also known as the Vigil Night of Shiva, Mahashivaratri is one of the most important spiritual festivals that is annually celebrated by millions of Hindus across India. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is part of the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Celebrating this festival at night makes it different from other Hindu festivals that are mostly celebrated during the day.

When Is Maha Shivaratri Celebrated?

On the 14th tithi during the Krshna Paksha of the month of Magha or the month of Phalguna, depending on the calendar used. It is celebrated annually and it falls on a different day each year. In 2018, it was celebrated on Tuesday, 13th of February, and Maha Shivaratri 2019 falls on Monday, 4th of March. It is set that Maha Shivaratri 2020 will be on Friday, 21st of February.

How to Celebrate Shivaratri?

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated through fasting all night, a meditation on Lord Shiva and abhisekha of Shiva Linga using water, milk, bel leaves, dhatura, honey, curd, ghee, bhasma, etc. A specific result is expected from offering each of these items. The night is divided into 4 praharas and during each one, there are specific mantras used for worship and abhisekha of Shiva. To sum it up, it is fasting, yoga, all night vigil and worship of Lingam. Om Namah Shivaya, the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day in Shiva temples.

Why Is Shivaratri Celebrated?

It is celebrated to venerate Lord Shiva, an important deity in the Hindu culture.

According to some myths, this is the night when Shiva performs his spectacular dance of Tandava. Another story says that the significance of Shivaratri lies in the fact that this was the night when Shiva and Parvati got married.

Lord Shiva is also known as Yogeshvara, the Lord of Yoga. the crescent moon in his hair represents time. It symbolizes his mastery over time. When meditating, we lose track of time and enjoy full awareness of the current moment, this experience of the timeless nature is the Self. People experience this through the practice of Siddha Yoga.

The moon also symbolizes the Mind, through meditation, it is believed that we can master our minds, still focus and direct it to its source, the divine consciousness. Our oneness with the lord is recognised through meditation.

It is also celebrated by Hindus in Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana.

Maha Shivaratri is also called:

  • ਮਹਾਂ ਸ਼ਿਵਰਾਤਰੀ (Punjabi)
  • ମହା ଶିବରାତ୍ରି (Odia)
  • মহা শিবরাত্রি (Bengali)
  • महा शिवरात्रि (Nepali)
  • महा शिवरात्रि (Sanskrit)
  • महा शिवरात्रि (Marathi)
  • மகா சிவராத்திரி (Tamil)
  • മഹാ ശിവരാത്രി (Malayalam)
  • ಮಹಾಶಿವರಾತ್ರಿ (Kannada)
  • మహా శివరాత్రి (Telugu)
  • મહા શિવરાત્રી (Gujarati)

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