Mahashivratri (महाशिवरात्रि) is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva, and in particular, marks the day of the consummation of the marriage of Shiva. There is a Shivratri in every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month’s 13th night/14th day, but once a year in late winter (February/March, or Phalguna) and before the arrival of Summer, marks Mahashivratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”. Mahashivratri in the year 2020 falls on date 21st February. It is a major festival in Hinduism, and this festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world. This is an ancient Hindu festival whose origin date is unknown. Having a great spiritual significance of the great and pious festival throughout the world, Siddha Spirituality of Swami Hardas Life System wishes our readers to know the history and significance.
Mahashivratri Description (महाशिवरात्रि का वर्णन)
Mahashivratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and is particularly important in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Unlike most Hindu festivals that are celebrated during the day, the Mahashivratri is celebrated at night. Furthermore, unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Mahashivratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, a meditation on Shiva, self-study, social harmony and an all-night vigil at Shiva temples.
The celebration includes maintaining a “Jaagaran”, an all-night vigil and prayers, because of Shaiva Hindus mark this night as “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in one’s life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets, and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with Vedic or Tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga. In Shiva temples, “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day.
History and significance of Mahashivratri (महाशिवरात्रि का इतिहास और महत्व)
The significance of dance tradition to this festival has historical roots. The Mahashivratri has served as a historic confluence of artists for annual dance festivals at major Hindu temples such as at:
This event is called Natyanjali, literally “worship through dance”, at the Chidambaram temple which is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient Hindu text of performance arts called Natya Shastra. Similarly, at Khajuraho Shiva temples, a major fair and dance festival on Mahashivratri, involving Shaiva pilgrims camped over miles around the temple complex, was documented by Alexander Cunningham in 1864.
Different Names of Lord Shiva (भगवान शिव के विभिन्न नाम)
The Shiva Purana list 1008 names for Lord Shiva. Each of these names in Sanskrit signifies a certain attribute of the Lord. Given here are 108 names of Lord Shiva with their meaning:
- Aashutosh: One who fulfills wishes instantly
- Aja: Unborn
- Akshayaguna: God with limitless attributes
- Anagha: Without any fault
- Anantadrishti: Of infinite vision
- Augadh: One who revels all the time
- Avyayaprabhu: Imperishable Lord
- Bhairav: Lord of terror
- Bhalanetra: One who has an eye in the forehead
- Bholenath: Kind-hearted Lord
- Bhudeva: Lord of the earth
- Bhooteshwara: Lord of ghosts and evil beings
- Bhutapala: Protector of the ghosts
- Chandrapal: Master of the moon
- Chandraprakash: One who has moon as a crest
- Dayalu: Compassionate
- Devadhideva: Lord of the Lords
- Dhanadeepa: Lord of wealth
- Dhyanadeep: Icon of meditation and concentration
- Dhyutidhara: Lord of brilliance
- Digambara: One who has the skies as his clothes
- Durjaneeya: Difficult to be known
- Durjaya: Unvanquished
- Gangadhara: Lord of river Ganga
- Girijapati: Consort of Girija
- Gunagrahin: Acceptor of Gunas
- Gurudeva: Master of All
- Hara: Remover of sins
- Jagadisha: Master of the Universe
- Jaradhishamana: Redeemer from afflictions
- Jatin: One who has matted hair
- Kailas: One Who bestows peace
- Kailashadhipati: Lord of Mount Kailash
- Kailashnath: Master of Mount Kailash
- Kamalakshana: Lotus-eyed Lord
- Kantha: Ever-radiant
- Kapalin: One who wears a necklace of skulls
- Khatvangin: One who has the missile Khatvangin in his hand
- Kundalin: One who wears earrings
- Lalataksha: One who has an eye in the forehead
- Lingadhyaksha: Lord of the Lingas
- Lingaraja: Lord of the Lingas
- Lokankara: Creator of the Three Worlds
- Lokpal: One who takes care of the world
- Mahabuddhi: Extremely intelligent
- Mahadeva: Greatest God
- Mahakal: Lord of all times
- Mahamaya: Of great illusions
- Mahamrityunjay: Great victor of death
- Mahanidhi: Great storehouse
- Mahashaktimaya: One who has boundless energies
- Mahayogi: Greatest of all Gods
- Mahesh: Supreme Lord
- Maheshwar: Lord of Gods
- Nagabhushan: One who has serpents as ornaments
- Nataraj: King of the art of dancing
- Nilakanth: The one with a blue throat
- Nityasundar: Ever beautiful
- Nrutyapriy: Lover of dance
- Omkar: Creator of OM
- Palanhaar: One who protects everyone
- Parameshwar: First among all gods
- Paramjyoti: Greatest splendor
- Pashupati: Lord of all living beings
- Pinakin: One who has a bow in his hand
- Pranav: Originator of the syllable of OM
- Priyabhakt: Favorite of the devotees
- Priyadarshan: Of loving vision
- Pushkar: One who gives nourishment
- Pushpalochan: One who has eyes like flowers
- Ravilochan: Having sun as the eye
- Rudra: The terrible
- Rudraksha: One who has eyes like Rudra
- Sadashiv: Eternal God
- Sanatan: Eternal Lord
- Sarvacharya: Preceptor of all
- Sarvashiv: Always pure
- Sarvatapan: Scorcher of all
- Sarvayoni: Source of everything
- Sarveshwar: Lord of all Gods
- Shambhu: Abode of joy
- Shankar: Giver of joy
- Shiva: Always pure
- Shoolin: One who has a trident
- Shrikant: Of glorious neck
- Shrutiprakash: Illuminator of the Vedas
- Shuddhavigrah: One who has a pure body
- Skandaguru: Preceptor of the Skanda
- Someshwar: Lord of all Gods
- Sukhad: Bestower of happiness
- Suprit: Well pleased
- Suragana: Having Gods as attendants
- Sureshwar: Lord of all Gods
- Swayambhu: Self-manifested
- Tejaswani: One who spreads illumination
- Trilochan: Three-eyed Lord
- Trilokpati: Master of all the three worlds
- Tripurari: Enemy of Tripura
- Trishoolin: One who has a trident in his hands
- Umapati: Consort of Uma
- Vachaspati: Lord of speech
- Vajrahast: One who has a thunderbolt in his hands
- Varad: Granter of boons
- Vedakarta: Originator of the Vedas
- Veerabhadra: Supreme Lord of the Nether World
- Vishalaksha: Wide-eyed Lord
- Vishveshwar: Lord of the Universe
- Vrishavahan: One who has the bull as his vehicle
What to do on Mahashivratri day (महाशिवरात्रि के दिन क्या करें)
Mahashivratri is the day to honor and celebrate Shiva-honor’s life and celebrate existence. Most people spend the day of Mahashivratri in prayer, meditation, and celebration. Here are a few activities you could participate in:
Observe Fast (उपवास करें)
Fasting detoxifies the body and curtails the restlessness of the mind. A mind that is not restless slips into meditation easily. Therefore, fasting on Mahashivratri serves to detoxify the body and aid meditation. It is recommended to fast with fruits or easily digestible food.
Meditate (ध्यान करें)
The constellations on the night of Mahashivratri are in a position considered very auspicious for meditation, and so, it is very useful for people to keep awake and meditate on Mahashivratri. In ancient times, people used to say, ‘If you cannot meditate every day, do so at least one day in a year, on this pious day; keep awake and do meditation’. Wake the Divinity that is deep within you – this is the message. The Divinity is within you, let it wake up!
Chant the Mantra – Om Siddheshwaray Namaha (|| ओम सिद्धेश्वराय नमः || मंत्र का जाप करें)
‘Om Siddheshwaray Namaha’ is the perfect mantra to chant on Mahashivratri as it immediately elevates your energy.
‘Om’ in the mantra refers to the sound of the universe. It means peace and love. The five letters, ‘Si’, ‘Ddhe’, ‘Sh’, ‘Va’, ‘Ray’ indicate the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.
The easiest way to chant is to continue chanting within mind the day before you go to sleep, which will also help you sleep troublefree as well as the mantra chanting will continue even during sleep hours. The next day i.e. on Mahashivratri, the same mantra can be chanted even while working, doing household work, or any activity undertaken but also visit some Shiv Temple and avail the benefits of Darshana.
Attend Puja/Rudra Puja/Mahayadnya (पूजा / रुद्र पूजा / महायज्ञ में भाग लें)
Rudra Puja or Mahashivratri Puja is a special ceremony performed to honor Shiva. It involves singing of special Vedic mantras accompanied by certain rituals. Rudra Puja brings positivity and purity to the environment and transforms negative emotions. Participating in the Puja and listening to the chants helps the mind slip into meditation effortlessly.
Worship the Shivalinga (शिवलिंग की पूजा करें)
The Shivalinga is a symbolic representation of the formless Shiva. Worshipping the Shivalinga includes offering ‘Bel Patra’ (leaves of the bel tree) to it. Offering ‘Bel Patra’ represents offering three aspects of your being – rajas (the aspect of you that is responsible for activity), tamas (the aspect of you that brings inertia) and sattva (the aspect of you that brings positivity, peace, and creativity). These three aspects affect your mind and actions. Surrendering the three to the Divine brings peace and freedom.
Mahashivratri and Tantra (महाशिवरात्रि और तंत्र)
Mahashivratri is considered the day when Adiyogi or the first guru awakened his consciousness at the material level of existence. According to Tantra, at this stage of consciousness, no objective experience takes place and the mind is transcended. The meditator transcends time, space and causation. It is regarded as the brightest night of the soul when the Yogi attains the state of Shoonya or Nirvana, the stage succeeding Samadhi or illumination.
Mahashivratri festival in India (भारत में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
The major Jyotirlinga Shiva temples of India, such as in Varanasi and Somanatha, are particularly frequented on Mahashivratri. They serve also as sites for fairs and special events.
Mahashivratri festival in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana (आंध्र प्रदेश और तेलंगाना में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
In Andhra and Telangana, Shivratri Yatras are held at:
- Mallayya gutta near Kambhalapalle
- Gundlakamma Kona near Railway Koduru
- Uma Maheswaram amongst others
Special Pujas are held at Pancharamas – Amararamam of Amaravati, Somaramam of Bhimavaram, Draksharamam, Kumararama of Samarlakota and Ksheerarama of Palakollu. The days immediately after Shivratri are celebrated as Brahmotsavaalu at Srisailam, one of 12 Jyotirlinga sites.
Mahashivratri Utsavalu are held at the Rudreshwara Swamy’s 1000 pillar temple in Warangal. Devotees throng for the special poojas at Srikalahasti, Mahanandi, Yaganti, Antarvedi, Kattamanchi, Pattiseema, Bhairavakona, Hanmakonda, Keesaragutta, Vemulawada, Panagal, Kolanupaka amongst others.
Mahashivratri festival in Himachal Pradesh (हिमाचल प्रदेश में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
The Mandi fair is in the town of Mandi is particularly famous as a venue for Mahashivratri celebrations. It transforms the town as devotees pour in. It is believed that all Gods and Goddesses of the area, said to number more than 200, assemble here on the day of Mahashivratri. Mandi, located on the banks of Beas, is popularly known as the “Cathedral of Temples” and one of the oldest towns of Himachal Pradesh, with about 81 temples of different Gods and Goddesses on its periphery.
Mahashivratri festival in Kashmir (कश्मीर में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
In Kashmir Shaivism, Mahashivratri is celebrated by the Brahmins of Kashmir and is called, “Herath” in Kashmiri, a word derived from the Sanskrit word “Hararatri” the “Night of Hara” (another name of Shiva). Shivratri, regarded as the most important festival of the community, for instance, is celebrated by them on Trayodashi or the thirteenth of the dark half of the month of Phalguna (February–March) and not on Chaturdashi or the fourteenth as in the rest of the country. The reason for it is that this long drawn festival that is celebrated for one full fortnight as an elaborate ritual is associated with the appearance of Bhairava (Shiva) as a Jwala-linga or a linga of flame.
Mahashivratri festival in Maharashtra (महाराष्ट्र में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
Shaktidata, Pune is a pious place wherein Siddha Temple is established by Dr. Swami Hardas and various Pujas and Hawana, Homa, Mahaydnya are being performed regularly for the benefits of the devotees and betterment of the whole world. One among them is Siddheshwar Mahaydnya and Siddheswar Siddha Puja. Thousands of devotees avail of the benefits on this auspicious day of Mahashivratri.
Mahashivratri festival in Central India (मध्य भारत में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
Central India has a large number of Shaiva followers. The Mahakaleshwar Temple, Ujjain is one of the most venerated shrines consecrated to Shiva, where a large congregation of devotees gathers to offer prayers on the day of Mahashivratri. Tilwara Ghat in the city of Jabalpur and the Math Temple in the village of Jeonara, Seoni are two other places where the festival is celebrated with much religious fervor.
Mahashivratri festival in Punjab (पंजाब में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
In Punjab, Shobha Yatras would be organized by various Hindu organizations in different cities. It is a grand festival for Punjabi Hindus.
Mahashivratri festival in Gujarat (गुजरात में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
In Gujarat, Mahashivratri Mela is held at Junagadh where bathing in the Murghi kund is considered holy. According to myth, Lord Shiva himself comes to bath in the Murghi kund.
Mahashivratri festival in West Bengal (पश्चिम बंगाल में महाशिवरात्रि पर्व)
In West Bengal, Mahashivratri is observed devoutly by unmarried girls seeking a suitable husband, often visiting Tarakeswar.
Mahashivratri Stories and Beliefs (महाशिवरात्रि की कहानियां और विश्वास)
There are several stories and beliefs associated with this auspicious event. One among includes:
Samudra Manthan (समुंद्र मंथन)
It is believed that on this particular day Lord Shiva gulped the Halahala produced during Samudra Manthan and beheld it in his neck which bruised and turned blue, after which he was named as Neelkanth. It is also believed that the famous Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is the place where this incident took place or where Lord Shiva consumed the poison as Dark matter and saved the universe.
Mahashivratri in Nepal (नेपाल में महाशिवरात्रि)
Mahashivratri is a National Holiday in Nepal and celebrated widely in temples all over the country, but especially in the Pashupatinath temple. Thousands of devotees visit the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham nearby as well. Artists from various classical music and dance forms perform through the night.
On Mahashivratri, married women pray for the well being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva, considered as the ideal husband. Shiva is also worshipped as the Adi Guru (first teacher) from whom the divine wisdom originates.
Mahashivratri in Pakistan (पाकिस्तान में महाशिवरात्रि)
Mahashivratri Outside South Asia (महाशिवरात्रि दक्षिण एशिया के बाहर)
Mahashivratri is the main Hindu festival among the Shaiva Hindu diaspora from Nepal and India. In Indo-Caribbean communities, thousands of Hindus spend the beautiful night in over four hundred temples across the country, offering special jhalls (an offering of milk and curd, flowers, sugarcane, and sweets) to Lord Shiva. In Mauritius, Hindus go on pilgrimage to Ganga Talao, a crater-lake.