Maha Shivratri is an annual festival which is celebrated by the devotees of Lord Shiva with great enthusiasm. The term Maha Shivratri translates to “Great Night of Lord Shiva” and is observed in the month of Phagun. While Shivratri is observed once every month, Maha Shivratri is celebrated just before the arrival of spring. Since it depends on the lunar calendar, there is no fixed date.
This year the festival will be celebrated on February 13 and the celebrations will go on until February 14th. Unlike most of the festivals, Maha Shivratri is not just about rejoicing but it’s more about meditating and worshipping Lord Shiva. This year, the timings for worship will start at 8 minutes past midnight on February 14th till 1 in the morning.
The morning timing is from 7:30 am to 3:20 pm. Devotees get up early, take a bath, and observe fast which is broken only when the puja is over. One may perform the puja once or 4 times during the night.
Stories behind Shivratri
There are numerous stories behind the festival. Some believe that it’s the night when Lord Shiva drank poison to protect the world from negativity. Others say that on this night Lord Shiva performs the dance of creation, preservation, and destruction while many also believe that this occasion marks the night when Lord Shiva got married to Parvati.
Worshipping Lord Shiva
The devotees of Lord Shiva take a bath early in the morning and seek blessings of Lord Shiva in temples. They also perform Abhishek on Shiva idols by offering ingredients like milk, rose water, ghee, sugar, yogurt, sandalwood, dhatura, and Bilva leaves.
Some observe fast for the whole day and consume nothing until evening while some take fruits and juices during the fast. Other practices include performing meditation, enchanting the mantra- Om Namah Shivaya and some also stay awake all night to worship the lord which is called Jagran.
Most of the Jyotirlinga Shiva temples host the celebrations that are attended by devotees, mainly in Varanasi and Somnatha. However, the biggest celebration takes place at Isha Yoga Centre, the headquarters of Isha Foundation by Sadhguru. It is located on the outskirts of Coimbatore visited by thousands of devotees from across the world.
It’s a very large gathering where mediation is performed all night, people sing devotion songs, enchant the mantra of Om Namah Shivaya and also perform Yoga.