Maha Shivratri is one of the largest and most significant among the sacred festival nights of India. It will be the darkest night of the year to celebrate the Grace of Shiva, who is considered the Adi Guru or the First Guru, from whom the yogic tradition originates. This year, Maha Shivaratri will be celebrated on February 21, 2020. This festival is considered to be the convergence of Shiva and Shakti. It is believed that on Maha Shivaratri, which is a Chaturdashi Tithi, Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati. According to the Hindu calendar, Shivaratri is marked every luni-solar month. There are 12 Shivaratris in a year. The term Maha Shivaratri means the ‘Great Night of Shiva’ and falls on the 13th night and 14th day of the New Moon. It is said that Lord Shiva performs the Tandava nritya or dance on Maha Shivaratri and this is one of the most sacred festivals in India. Also Read - Sadhguru's Isha-Mahashivratri Pics: Exuberance And Devotion Mark Eclectic All-Night Celebrations

A fast is observed for the full day and devotees offer prasad to the deity. A holy drink, panchamrit, is also made during pooja to offer to Lord Shiva. Some also meditate and do yoga on the day. The auspicious Maha Shivratri is an ancient Hindu festival and its date of origin is not known. Also Read - 'Muft Ka Gyaan'! Sonu Sood Mercilessly Trolled For His 'Maha Shivratri' Tweet, Netizens Accuse Him of 'Targeting Hindu Gods'

Maha Shivaratri Puja Timings:

On 22nd Feb, Shivaratri Parana Time – 06:54 AM to 03:25 PM Also Read - Do Not Forward Happy Maha Shivratri Messages, Help The Needy: Sonu Sood Makes an Important Point

Ratri First Prahar Puja Time – 06:15 PM to 09:25 PM

Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time – 09:25 PM to 12:34 AM, Feb 22

Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time – 12:34 AM to 03:44 AM, Feb 22

Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time – 03:44 AM to 06:54 AM, Feb 22

Chaturdashi Tithi Begins – 05:20 PM on Feb 21, 2020

Chaturdashi Tithi Ends – 07:02 PM on Feb 22, 2020

Fasting (Vrat Vidhi)

According to Drikpanchang, one day before Shivaratri Vratam, most likely on Trayodashi, devotees should eat only one time. On Shivaratri day, after finishing morning rituals devotees should take Sankalp to observe full day fast on Shivaratri and to take food the next day. During Sankalp, devotees pledge for self-determination throughout the fasting period and seek the blessing of Lord Shiva to finish the fast without any interference. Hindu fasts are strict and people pledge for self-determination and seek God blessing before starting them to finish them successfully.

On Shivaratri day devotees should take second bath in the evening before doing Shiva Puja or visiting the temple. Shiva Puja should be done during night and devotees should break the fast next day after taking bath. Devotees should break the fast between sunrise and before the end of Chaturdashi Tithi to get the maximum benefit of the Vrat. According to one contradictory opinion, devotees should break the fast only when Chaturdashi Tithi gets over. But it is believed that both Shiva Puja and Parana i.e. breaking the fast should be done within Chaturdashi Tithi.

Shivaratri puja can be performed one time or four times during the night. The whole night duration can be divided into four to get four Prahar to perform Shiva Puja four times. lists all four Prahar durations for staunch Shiva devotees who perform Shiva Pujan four times in the night. We also list Nishita time when Lord Shiva appeared on the Earth in the form of Linga and the time window to break the fast on the next day.

On the day of Maha Shivaratri, devotees chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’.