Mahashivratri 2024

Significance of Mahashivratri

Mar 05, 2024priyamvadha b

Lord Shiva, the supreme lord of boundless consciousness and the ultimate source of cosmic balance, epitomizes meditation and harmony. He is depicted as the husband of Devi Parvati and the father of Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya. Known as Adi Yogi, Shiva is said to reside in Mount Kailash, leading the life of an ascetic.

Among the divine nights in our spirituality, Mahashivaratri holds a paramount significance for Lord Shiva, while Devi (Parvati) is said to have nine such nights dedicated to her. Although Shivaratri occurs monthly in accordance with the Hindu calendar, the one falling in the month of Masi is revered as the most auspicious night for the three-eyed deity.

Types of Shivaratri

The Skanda Purana mentions four types of Shivaratri - Nitya Sivaratri, Masa Shivaratri (Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi/Maasik Shivaratri), Magha Prathamadi Shivaratri and Magha Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi (Mahashivaratri).

Nitya Shivaratri – According to this concept, every night is Shiva’s night as all living beings go to sleep at the end of every day. Among the Trimurti in the Hindu pantheon (Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva), Lord Shiva is in charge of sleep, while Brahma is responsible for awakening souls at daybreak, and Vishnu oversees their respective functions and activities during the day.

Based on this philosophy, our forefathers have divided 24 hours in a day to guide us in our day-to-day lives. The elders have divided the day based on this. The time between 4 am and 8 am is the active time of Brahma. After the day's activities, close to 5 pm, it is time for us to rest and refresh our mind and body, therefore the time of Brahma again. Once we finish our meals by 8 pm, it is Lord Shiva's time when all worldly activities cease, leading to a state akin to a death-like sleep.

Masa Shivaratri (Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi) - This occurs every month on the 14th day (Chaturdashi) of the Krishna Paksha, the waxing phase of the moon.

Magha Prathamadi Shivaratri - This is observed for 13 days starting from Prathama Tithi (1st day) in the Hindu Magha month and ends on Chaturdashi. The lord is worshipped throughout the night on Chaturdashi.

Magha Krishna Paksha Chaturdasi – This Shivaratri, popularly known as Maha Shivaratri, is the most celebrated among the four. It occurs on Chaturdashi of the Krishna Paksha (the waning phase of the moon) in the Magha month, following the 13 days of worship.

Stories associated with Mahashivaratri

There are many stories around the significance of Mahashivaratri. This night is widely believed to mark the divine union of the three-eyed Lord with Parvati. Popularly, it relates to the lord’s ‘Tandav’, his cosmic dance embodying creation, preservation, and dissolution. Another tale recounts Shiva's valiant act of consuming Halahala, the poison that emerged during the churning of the cosmic ocean. Parvati, in a bid to protect him, clasped his throat, turning it blue and earning him the epithet 'Neelkanth'.

Mahashivaratri is celebrated fervently by Shiva devotees across India, Nepal, Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago, Fiji, and beyond. Observances vary, with some observing fasts and engaging in 'Jagaran', staying awake through the night in meditation. Others perform Abhisheka, Archana, and prayers.

Rituals, Offerings, Fasts during Mahashivaratri

Mahashivaratri celebrations are marked by the observance of strict Upavasa (day-night fasts) and Jaagarans (staying awake throughout the night). It is believed that the Punya or good fortune acquired from worshiping the Shiva Linga with Bilva leaves and Abhisheka (ritualistic purification of the deity) is as profound as 10000 Ganga Snana (baths in the holy River Ganga). The Upavasas of Siva Ratri are said to be equivalent to performing 100 Yagnas (Vedic sacrifices).

Shiva, renowned as 'Abhisheka Priya' - the one who adores Abhisheka - is worshipped with Abhisheka. Devotees, both in temples and homes, honour him by anointing the Shivalinga with offerings such as milk, curd, Vibhuti, tender coconut, ghee, Panchamrita, honey, sandal paste, sugarcane juice, water, and Vilva (Belpatra) leaves, in a ritual known as Rudra Abhisheka. Mantras resonate through the air during these offerings, infusing the atmosphere with spiritual energy. During this time, it is also customary for priests and devotees to chant Rudram Chamakam.

Despite his grandeur, Shiva is said to be content with even the humblest offerings such as milk or sweet potatoes, reflecting his benevolence and approachability.


Mahashivaratri symbolizes a profound journey of spiritual awakening and inner transformation. As devotees unite in prayer and meditation, not only do they seek and invoke Shiva's blessings but also seek a deeper connection with the limitless consciousness that he epitomizes. Mahashivaratri serves as a timeless reminder of the eternal cycle of creation, preservation, and dissolution, mirrored in the rhythms of our own lives. 



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