MahaSivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Siva. There is a Sivaratri 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 phalgun) and before the arrival of Summer, marks MahaSivaratri which means “the Great Night of Siva”.

It is a major festival in India Hinduism, and this festival is solemn and marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and the world. It is observed by remembering Siva and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non-injury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Siva. The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Siva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. This is an ancient Hindu festival whose origin date is unknown.

  • How Is Sivaratri Celebrated?

There are certain perceptions about the festival. While some head to Siva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams, some celebrate it as the day to observe stillness by chanting of Siva mantra “Om Namah Sivaya”, praying to Lord Siva, keeping fast, practicing yoga, meditation, and self-restraint. The ardent devotees keep awake all night, also called “jaagaran”.

The major Jyotirlinga Siva temples of India – in Varanasi and Somnatha – are frequented on Maha Shivaratri by the Siva devotees. It is also celebrated in the temples all over Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana.

  • Significance Of Sivaratri

There are several legends around MahaSivaratri. According to a legend, MahaSivaratri was the day when Siva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world. Another legend says that it is the night when Siva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction, while some believe that this is the night when Siva and Parvati got married.

  • Stories & Beliefs

There are several stories and beliefs associated with this auspicious event.

Samudra Manthan
It is believed that on this particular day Lord Siva gulped the Halahala produced during Samudra Manthan and beheld it in his neck which bruises and turned blue, after which he was named as Neel Kanth. It is also believed that the famous Neelkanth Mahadev Temple is the place where this incident took place or where Lord Siva consumed the poison as Dark matter and saved the universe.