Mahashivratri is one of the most important Hindu festivals of the year. This auspicious festival is celebrated to honour the Hindu God Shiva. Hence, Mahashivratri is termed as the ‘Great Night of Shiva’. Mahashivratri 2017 falls on February 24. The festival is celebrated on the 13th night and 14th day of the Hindu month of Phalgun. On this day, devotees chant prayers and observe a rigorous fast to seek divine blessings of Lord Shiva. Mahashivratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati. It is said that on this day, Lord Shiva saved the world from a pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan. (When is Mahashivratri 2017: Date, Muhurat, Puja Vidhi, Fasting & Auspicious timings of Shivratri)

According to Hindu scriptures, devotees who worship Lord Shiva on the night of Mahashivratri will have their wishes fulfilled. Hence, devotees perform special puja on this day, giving a sacred bath to the Lord and offering fruits, flowers and bel leaves. The Lord’s bhakts chant various shlokas and mantras all night and break their fast on the next morning of Mahashivratri by consuming prasad. (Maha Shivaratri 2017: Know the Puja Muhurat, Puja Vidhi & auspicious timings to perform Shiva Puja)

1. Traditions, rituals and customs of Mahashivratri: 

फोटो साभार: MSKumar

On Mahashivratri, pilgrims and sadhus visit the famous Pashupatinath Temple to observe the festival. Women, both married and unmarried, perform special puja for Goddess Parvati. The goddess is also known as Gaura, the giver of ′suhag′ or lasting matrimony to a woman. Females worship Parvati and pray for being blessed with good husbands and a long, happy married life. On Mahashivratri, many devotees observe fast and chant ‘Shivji ki Jai’ in Hindi and ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ in Sanskrit. They later celebrate Mahashivratri by drinking thandai, which is made up of bhang (cannabis), almonds and milk. It is said that Lord Shiva liked this drink and devotees take it in the form of prasad along with sweets.

2. Mythology behind Mahashivratri: 

Lord Shiva

According to ancient legends, Mahashivratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that on the night of Mahashivratri, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava dance. On this day, Lord Shiva saved the world from a pot of poison that emerged from the ocean during Samudra Manthan, by drinking it.

3. The Mahashivratri Fast

On Mahashivratri, devotees observe fast in the name of Lord Shiva to seek divine blessings. Shiva Purana said that if a devotee observes Shivratri Vrata or fast with utmost devotion and sincerity, then Lord Shiva will grant them benefits. On this day, devotees observe fast and only consume fruits and milk. The entire day they worship Lord Shiva and later on boil water with black sesame seeds. It is said that this traditional ritual washes all impurities.

On the auspicious day of Mahashivratri, we wish each and everyone a very Happy Mahashivratri. May Lord Shiva bless you with good health and happiness. Om Namah Shivay!