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The Significance of Maha Shivratri (2024): A Guide to the Hindu Festival

Maha Shivratri is an Indian festival that is celebrated every year on the Chaturthi tithi of Krishan Paksha of Falgun month or you can say that it is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the waning phase of Falgun month. It has great significance among devotees of Lord Shiva and it represents the union of Shiva and Shakti aka Parvati.

This year in 2024 it will be celebrated on 8 March to 9 March 2024. As per Panchang the 14th day of the waning phase of Falgun month starts at 09:57 PM on March and ends at 06:17 PM on 9 March.

Maha Shivratri Story/Significance

This day people celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati. Maha Shivaratri, also known as the Great Night of Shiva, is a significant Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva. Let me share the story and significance of this auspicious occasion for Lord Shiva devotees.

There are several parts of the story that why the Maha Shivratri is celebrated so I divided them accordingly for better understanding.

The Divine Union of Shiva and Parvati

  • According to Hindu mythology, on this night, Lord Shiva married his divine consort, Maa Shakti (Parvati), for a second time.
  • The celestial wedding symbolizes the union of Purusha (consciousness, represented by Shiva) and Prakriti (nature, represented by Parvati).
  • Their union signifies the harmonious balance between the masculine and feminine energies in the universe.

The Tandava Dance

  • On Maha Shivaratri, It is believed that Lord Shiva performs the Tandava, a powerful and dynamic dance that represents creation, preservation, and destruction.
  • The rhythmic movements of the Tandava symbolize the cosmic cycles and the eternal flow of energy.

Overcoming Darkness and Ignorance

  • Maha Shivaratri is a time for devotees to overcome darkness and ignorance in their lives.
  • It is observed through fasting, self-study, meditation, and prayers.
  • Devotees stay awake throughout the night, engaging in spiritual practices.

Jyotirlingas and Pilgrimage

  • Many devotees visit Shiva temples or embark on pilgrimages to the Jyotirlingas (sacred shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva).
  • Offering prayers and performing rituals at these holy sites is considered highly auspicious.

Universal Significance

  • Maha Shivaratri transcends cultural boundaries and is celebrated by Hindus worldwide.
  • It serves as a reminder to seek inner transformation, embrace virtues, and connect with the divine.
  • Remember, Maha Shivaratri is not just a festival, it’s considered as an opportunity to awaken our spiritual consciousness and celebrate the eternal dance of creation and dissolution.
Maha Shivratri - Lord Shiva
Photo by Tanmoy Pal

Suggested Read: Happy Navratri

How Maha Shivratri is celebrated?

Maha Shivratri, the auspicious night dedicated to Lord Shiva, is celebrated with great reverence and devotion. Here are the key rituals and practices associated with this sacred occasion.

1. Fasting (Upavasa)

  • Devotees observe a strict fast throughout the day and night.
  • The fast is broken only the next morning after the nightlong worship.

2. Ritual Bath of Shivalinga

  • Early in the morning, devotees take a ritual sunrise bath, preferably in the holy waters of the River Ganga or their homes.
  • They offer prayers to the Sun God, Vishnu, and Shiva as part of a purification rite.
  • Freshly dressed, devotees visit the nearest Shiva Temple to give the customary bath to the Shivalinga.
  • Shiva temples are thronged by devotees, mainly women, who perform the traditional Shivalinga pooja and seek blessings from the god.

3. Circumambulation and Offerings

  • Devotees circumambulate the Shivalinga three or seven times.
  • They pour water and sometimes milk over the Linga.
  • The temple premises resonate with the sounds of bells and shouts of “Shankarji ki Jai!” (Hail Shiva).

4. Special Bath of Shivalinga

  • Following the rituals prescribed in the Shiva Purana, the Shivalinga is given a special bath every three hours.
  • The bath includes milk, yogurt, honey, sandalwood paste, and rose water.
  • Devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya” during this ritual.

5. Vermilion Paste and Offerings

  • After the bath, vermilion paste is applied to the Linga, symbolizing virtue.
  • Leaves of the Bilwa tree (Aegle marmelos) are traditionally used for Shiva puja.
  • Ber (jujube fruit) and beetle leaves are also offered.
  • Devotees decorate the Linga with flowers, garlands, incense sticks, and fruit.

6. Significance of Puja Items

  • Each puja item has a special significance:
    • Bathing with water, milk, and honey purifies the soul.
    • Vermilion paste represents virtue.
    • Offering fruits symbolizes longevity and desire fulfillment.
    • Burning incense sticks yields wealth.

7. Jagran (Staying Awake)

  • Passionate devotees stay awake throughout the night, singing bhajans and meditating.
  • The night is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s divine presence.

8. Visiting Shiva Temples and Jyotirlingams

  • Many visit Shiva temples or embark on pilgrimages to the Jyotirlingas (sacred shrines).
  • Seeking blessings and participating in special pujas are common.

9. Meditation and Chanting

  • Devotees meditate on Lord Shiva’s form and contemplate their spiritual journey.
  • Chanting mantras like “Om Namah Shivaya” is considered auspicious.

10. Mahashivratri Puja or Rudra Puja

  • Participating in special pujas at temples is a significant part of the celebration.

There is an another that I see in my city by Jhaki. Jhakis of Maha Shivratri move around all the city along with Kavadias. People give langer to the Jhakis like Pakora, Orange, etc. These Jhakis includes Lord Vishu, Lord Shiva, Bhoots of Shiv, etc.

Remember, Maha Shivratri is not just about rituals, it’s a time to honor Lord Shiva, celebrate existence, and seek inner transformation. 12345.

Difference between Shivratri & Maha Shivratri

Shivratri and Maha Shivratri are both Hindu festivals dedicated to Lord Shiva, but they have distinct characteristics:


  • Frequency: Shivratri occurs every month.
  • Observance: It is observed as a night of worship and austerity to honor Lord Shiva.
  • Timing: Shivratri falls on the Chaturdashi Tithi (14th day) of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of the moon) each month.
  • Significance: Mondays and Pradosh days are considered auspicious for Shiva worship.
  • Badi Shivaratri: This special Shivratri occurs when Pradosh falls in the month of Shravan. There are 12 Shivratris in a year in this context.

Maha Shivratri

  • Frequency: Maha Shivratri occurs once a year.
  • Festival: It is celebrated with much fanfare and devotion across the country.
  • Date: Maha Shivratri falls on the Chaturdashi date of the Krishna Paksha in the Magha/Phalguna month.
  • Significance: Maha Shivratri commemorates Lord Shiva’s marriage to Goddess Parvati. Devotees hold this day in high regard.
  • Rudrabhishek: Performing Rudrabhishek on this day is believed to fulfill devotees’ wishes.

In summary, while Shivratri is observed monthly, Maha Shivratri is the grand annual celebration of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati’s divine union.12345.

Vinay Garg
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