- Mahashivaratri is a festival important in Shaivism traditions of Hindu religion
- Maha Shivaratri is regarded as the day when Shiva and Parvati got married
- Shivaratri is on the 13th night/14th day of the month
Mahashivaratri is celebrated in the honour of Lord Shiva. The festival is solemn and is celebrated in remembrance of ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance’ in life and the world. In every luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, there is a Shivaratri on the 13th night/14th day of the month. However, before the arrival of Summer comes Mahashivaratri (meaning the Great Night of Shiva).
A major festival in Hinduism, Mahashivaratri is observed by remembering Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, doing Yoga, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honestly, noninjury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva.
Many devotees keep awake all night, many others visit nearby Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams.
Maha Shivaratri Sadhana
Important in the Shaivism tradition, unlike most Hindu festivals the Mahashivaratri is celebrated at night. It is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus on fasting, meditation, self-study, social harmony, and all night prayers at Shiva temples.
A jaagaran (all-night vigil and prayers) is maintained because this festival is marked as ‘overcoming darkness and ignorance’ in one’s life and the world through Shiva. Fruits, leaves, sweet, and milk are offered to Shiva. Some people even perform all-day fasting with the tantric worship of Shiva, and others perform meditative Yoga.
The chants of ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ can be heard from temples all night and day. Mahashivaratri is celebrated for three to ten days based on the Hindu calendar.
Mahashivaratri was the day when Lord Shiva drank off the poisonous negativity (or so Yogis say) to protect our world. The festival is mentioned in Skanda Purana, Linga Purana, and Padma Purana. Though these texts present different mythologies of the festival, all mention fasting and reverence for Lord Shiva.
One legend in the Shaivism tradition tells Mahashivaratri is the “night when Lord Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation and destruction”. While another legend regards this night as the event when Shiva and Parvati got married.
The major temples of Konark, Khajuraho, Pattadakal, Modhera, and Chidambaram witness what is known as the ‘sangam’ of artists for dance festivals.
The event, called Natyanjali, at Chidambaram temple is famous for its sculpture depicting all dance mudras in the ancient text of performance arts called Natya Shastra.