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Maha Shivarathri

Posted on: February 12, 2010


Shivratri, or Mahashivratri, is the most auspicious day dedicated to Lord Shiva and is popularly known as the night of Siva. In 2010, the date of Shivaratri is February 12. In Panchangs and Hindu calendars followed in United States, United Kingdom (Britain) and Canada, Shivratri is marked on February 11. This holy night of Shiva is observed on the night before ‘amavasya’ in the Hindu month of Phalgun (February – March) as per traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India. The corresponding period in other regions is the night before Magh Amavasya.

Most Hindu festivals are noted for its mirth and color but Shivratri is a night dedicated to prayers and contemplation. Of course, when Lord Shiva is worshipped there is joy all around but it is not just joy but bliss that is achieved through Brahman realization – When Lord Shiva is seen in all animate and inanimate.

When we realize that it is his Tandava that creates each cell and it is his Tandava that is responsible for the transformation of each cell – we attain Moksha

Planetary Position on Shivaratri Night

It is believed that the planetary positions align in such a way on Shivratri night that it naturally creates an upsurge of energy in the human system. This is also why traditionally it is known to be beneficial both physically and spiritually to stay awake and aware through the night.

Shivratri and Amavasya (No Moon)

The significance of Shivratri is closely associated with ‘amavas’ – the no moon night or full dark night as per traditional Hindu Calendar. Amavas symbolically represents Kaliyuga or spiritual ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared just before the beginning of Kaliyuga to rid the world of evil and ignorance. Therefore Shivratri is celebrated to get rid of evil and ignorance.

It must be noted here that Shivratri is observed during Phalgun month in North India. The corresponding month in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh is Magh Month.

There is also a Masa Shivratri which is observed on thirteenth day of Krishna Paksha (waning phase of the moon) in all traditional Hindu months.

Shivratri Vrat: How to Observe Fast during Mahasivratri?

On the auspicious occasion of Shivaratri, or Mahashivratri, Hindu devotees around the world observe Shivratri Vrat or Upvaas or fast. The fasting involves refraining from eating any food and not sleeping through out the night. Sivaratri literally means ‘the night of Lord Shiva’ and unlike other festivals associated with Hinduism there is no fun and merrymaking on the day. But the night provides an opportunity to cleanse the ignorance and realize that you are Brahman and open the door to bliss.

The day after Shivratri is Amavasi – the dark night or the no moon night. It symbolizes the evil forces – desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger – which dominate the Kaliyuga. Shiva is believed to have appeared in the form of ‘Lingodabhavamurti’ or Jyotir Linga on the Shivratri night. The Linga is an attempt to give form to the formless Brahmn. Praying to Shiva is to escape from miseries of Kaliyuga.

The Mahashivratri fasting begins on the morning of Shivratri and ends next day morning or the Amavasya morning. Since it is a long Upvaas or Vrat, many people consume a special meal known as ‘phalar.’

  • Devotees wake up before sunrise and take bath and wear clean clothes.
  • Applying of sacred ash, or vibhuthi, is an important aspect on the day. People also wear a Rudraksha Mala.
  • The idols of Ganesh, Shiva and Parvati are cleaned and a lamp is lit.
  • Most people then visit a nearby Shiva temple. In most places, Shivratri is largely observed in temples.
  • Some people observing fast consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. Another food eaten on the day is pakori or Kutt Singahri ki puri.
  • Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
  • No meal is eaten after sunset.
  • Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasi after doing puja and giving alms.
  • The entire night is spend in a nearby Shiva temple or by chanting Mantras or listening to stories related to Shiva.
  • Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include:
  • Shiva Panchakshari Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya or chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva.
  • People who have a Shivling at home can bathe the Shivling with water intermittently throughout the night.

All the rituals on the night of Shivratri are meant to cleanse the ignorance and realize the Brahmn manifest in you. The fasting, rituals and chanting are meant to kill desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger. This will make you a better person and prepare you to face the challenges.

Shivratri Prayers and Mantras

Apart from fasting and keeping vigil at night, Hindu devotees also chant sacred prayers and mantras dedicated to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri night. In fact these mantras can be chanted on a daily basis.

Some of the Holy Siva mantras recommended for Maha Sivaratri are

Shiva Panchakshari Mantra – Om Namah Shivaya

Shiva Sakti Panchakshari Mantra – Om Hrim Namah Shivaya

Mrutyunjaya Mantra

Om Trayambakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanat
Mrutyor Mukshiya Mamrutat


Shiva Gayatri Mantra

Om tatpuruṣhaya vidmahe
Mahadevaya dhimahi
Tanno rudrah prachodayat

Apart from this one can chant the 108 names or 1008 names of Lord Shiva or the 24 Sacred Names of Lord Siva.

Twenty Four Sacred Names of Shiva

1. Om maheswaraya namaha
2. Om mahadevaya namaha
3. Om sarveswaraya namaha
4. Om shivaya namaha
5. Om Shankaraya namaha
6. Om Saswataya namaha
7. Om pasupataye namaha
8. Om umapataye namaha
9. Om brahmadhipataye namaha
10. Om parameswaraya namaha
11. Om bhasmangaragaya namaha
12. Om mahesaya namaha
13. Om nityaya namaha
14. Om shuddhaya namaha
15. Om mrutyunjayaya namaha
16. Om bhutesaya namaha
17. Om mrudaya namaha
18. Om sarvaya namaha
19. Om sadashivaya namaha
20. Om bhavaya namaha
21. Om sarvajnaya namaha
22. Om bhimaya namaha
23. Om vasudevaya namaha
24. Om tripurantakaya namaha

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