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Celebrating Maha Shivratri

Happy Maha Shivaratri! We are excited to celebrate another important holiday in the Hindu religion with you. Before we go into the details about this holiday, I’d like to invite you to play this song, as during the writing of this blog this song really set the mood, and I hope it can also give you positive vibes while reading about this celebration.

Maha Shivratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of the God Shiva, one of the main deities of Hinduism. Every month of the luni-solar Hindu calendar, there is a Shivratri – “Night of Shiva” – on the day before a new moon. But once a year, in late winter and before the arrival of summer (February/March), this night is called “Maha Shivaratri” – “the Great Night of Shiva”. This is considered the biggest or most important Shivratri festival in the Hindu calendar. This day falls in the month of Phalguna as per the North Indian Hindu calendar and in Magha as per the South Indian Hindu calendar. This year Maha Shivratri falls on Saturday, 18th February 2023.

Statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva with sunset in the background

History of Maha Shivratri

There are said to be many beliefs about why Maha Shivratri is celebrated. It is famously believed that on the day of Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married. And so, every year, this festival is celebrated to mark their holy union.

Some other people believe that Maha Shivratri is observed to remember the day when Lord Shiva drank the poison that got churned out from the ocean. By doing this, he protected the world from evil spirits, negativity, darkness, and dismay.

According to some literature, Maha Shivratri is the day when Lord Shiva performs his celestial dance called Tandava, also called Tandava Natyam. Lord Shiva’s dance is supposed to balance out the existential cycle, restoring life and death in the world.

How to celebrate Maha Shivratri

On this day, devotees observe fasts, perform puja (worship), offer prayers, fruits, flowers and milk to Lord Shiva, and seek his blessings and protection. As per popular belief, praying to Lord Shiva after keeping fast makes the lord happy. Here are some of the ways you celebrate that you shared with us:

  • Performing Arathi ritual, in a temple with flowers and fruits.
  • The day is a holiday, and we start by visiting our temple and making offerings to Lord Shiva and attending the local get-together to sing religious songs and share the communal food called Bhandara. This is basically prepared with contributions of people and offered to everyone – poor and homeless and anybody else who wants.
  • We fast for the day. We drink bhaang. And pray for success, love, peace and well-being.
  • We usually do the prayers in the morning followed by a day of fasting and eating “falhar” food in the evening.
  • It is usually celebrated through chanting, yoga, meditation and fasting. Offerings of fruit and sweets are made to Shiva at temples.
  • Traditionally it’s more of a time for prayer and reflection. Pilgrims walk long distances to temples/ sacred places. Offerings are made at the temple for the less fortunate. Many families have a Vegetarian meal.
  • By observing fasts, visiting Shiva temples, offering prayers, singing hymns and devotional songs, performing rituals such as “abhishek” (bathing the Shiva linga with milk, water, and other offerings), and staying awake all night to chant “Om Namah Shivaya”. The festival is observed differently by different communities and regions, but the central theme is the worship and devotion to Lord Shiva.
  • I usually start my day by keeping fast and worshipping lord shiva followed by visiting a temple and drinking bhang (drinks are offered in the Shiva temple). I meditate and do yoga and try to connect my spiritual soul.
Statues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati

What would you like others to know about the holiday?

These are the main things our Team Members who celebrate Maha Shivratri wish people knew about the Hindu holiday:

  • I want people to know about the importance of love this day signifies as the vows the Gods took during their marriage are still the same as we take during Hindu weddings.
  • Apart from a religious perspective, the festival is also a time for people to engage in spiritual introspection and self-improvement. Devotees may meditate, practice yoga, or participate in other spiritual practices to deepen their connection with Lord Shiva and their own inner selves.
  • It’s a divine day for a Hindu family, filled with joy, respect and dignity towards our deities for providing us with blessings and most importantly being with us taking all the negativity and curses from our lives. God bless all souls.
  • Mahashivaratri is the day when the Shiva Tattva touches the earth. The consciousness, the aura or the ethereal world, which is always ten inches above the material ground, touches the earth element on the day of Mahashivarathri. It is the wedding of the material with the spiritual.
  • Maha Shivaratri marks the occasion when Shiva first performed the Tandava Nritya – also known as the dance of primordial creation, preservation, and destruction. It was through this dance of devotion that Lord Shiva saved the world from destruction.
  • Be happy and pure! And don’t do anything to make Shiva angry.
  • That it is a crucial event and day for us and carries religious sentiments.
  • It’s an auspicious day which can be celebrated with others by sharing sweets.
  • Feel the divine presence and celebrate by eating tapioca.
  • Stay awake and keep your body straight in the most possible way.
  • I think people must visit once in a lifetime to India during this festival.
  • The importance of fasting and the special story behind this particular fasting.
  • Pray to God and think of the good and bad deeds you have done the entire year and dance performance if possible is also encouraged.
  • Be pure as purest as possible. God will like the real and honest you and the good little things done by you.
  • It’s a time for being humble, not a time to be extravagant.
  • If you do fast on this day and make any wish with complete devotion, it will be fulfilled.
We hope you learned something new about the Hindu holiday and wish a very happy Maha Shivratri to you and your loved ones.