Mahashivratri, one of Sanatan Dharma’s most important festivals is celebrated on the fourteenth day (Chaturdashi) of Magh (Krishna Paksha). Mahashivratri signifies the overcoming of darkness and ignorance and moving into a state of super consciousness. Of the twelve Shivratris every year, Mahashivratri is most significant spiritually because of the favourable planetary conjunctions at this time. At this time there is a surge of Divine Energy throughout the cosmos. Mahashivratri is a night devoted to the worship of Mahadev. Devotees observe a strict fast on this day. Some organise all night Jagratas and some perform ritualistic puja during the night.
Stories connected to Mahashivratri
There are some stories connected to the origins of why Mahashivratri is celebrated. One is that Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati got married on this day. Householders and devotees in family life celebrate Mahashivratri to bring peace and happiness to their lives. Another story is that Lord Shiva saved the world on this day by consuming the poison that came out during the Samudra Manthan. Mahashivratri is celebrated to mark that occasion. A third story is that this is the day when Maa Ganga descended to the earth. To save the world from destruction from the force of Maa Ganga, Lord Shiva received Her in His Jata and released Her in different streams. One more story says this is the day when the formless Sadashiv appeared in the form of a Linga (Lingodbhava) at midnight. Yogis and ascetics believe this was the day when Adi Yogi Shiva achieved super consciousness after thousands of years of meditation. Adi Yogi Shiva is also the Adi Guru from whom the science of Yoga originated. Mahashivratri is mentioned in Skanda, Linga, and Padma Puranas besides several other religious texts.
Celebrations Across India
Mahashivratri is a festival that is observed and celebrated across the length and breadth of India. The twelve Jyotirling temples are the destination for millions of devotees. The temples have special festivities organized on this day. Fairs and Melas, ranging from three days to ten days are held in numerous places. India is a country with millions of Shiva temples – big and small all over the country. For each of them, Mahashivratri is a big day and a special occasion. Devotees offer prayers for well-being along with fruits, Bel leaves, Sweets, and milk to please Lord Shiva. Yogis and ascetics meditate the whole night sitting in padmasana with the spine straight. The sacred mantra – ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and Shiv Chalisa are continuously chanted. Mahashivratri can be celebrated for a day, three or ten days.
Celebration of the Celestial Dance
Lord Shiva is well known for His celestial and cosmic dance of Creation, Preservation, and Destruction. It is believed that the Lord performs this dance on Mahashivratri. Dance festivals are held at many temples in India including Konark Sun Temple, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Chidambaram, and Modhera temples. Most of these festivals have been going on since ancient times. This form of worship is known as ‘Natyanjali’, and its base is the ancient text – Natya Shastra. Chidambaram temple is famous for sculptures depicting various dance mudras from the Natya Shastra. This festival has been held in Khajuraho for centuries. A British explorer described the fair and dance festival in 1864 CE. He mentioned that people were camped for miles around the site during the festival.
Darkness to Light and Ignorance to Knowledge
Mahashivratri always falls on the darkest night of the month. This can be a little puzzling for some people – why is this festival celebrated when the night is darkest? Should it not be the opposite? The answer to this lies in the science of Yoga. The word ‘Guru’ is of two parts. ‘Gu’ means darkness or ignorance. ‘Ru’ means light or knowledge. The blessed Guru takes a disciple from darkness to light. Lord Shiva is the first Guru (Adi Guru) of the world. He will take you from ignorance to knowledge and from darkness to light. Meditation, prayers, and worship on this day will be of great benefit in taking the devotee closer to God, Light, and knowledge of the highest kind.
Puja and Ratri Prahar Timings
|Chaturdashi Tithi Begins||March 11, 2021, and ends at 03:02 PM on Mar 12, 2021|
|Ratri First Prahar Puja Time||06:27 PM to 09:29 PM March 12|
|Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time||09:29 PM to 12:31 AM, March 12|
|Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time||12:31 AM to 03:32 AM, March 12|
|Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time||03:32 AM to 06:34 AM, March 12|
|Shivaratri Parana Time||06:34 AM to 03:02 PM March 12|
|Nishita Kaal Puja Time||12:09 AM to 12:55 AM, Mar 12|