Maha Shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri
02 Mahashivratree festival.JPG
Meditating Shiva on Maha-Shivratri
Also calledমহা শিৱৰাত্রি ( Assamese)
মহা শিবরাত্রি (Bengali)
महा शिबफुजा ( Bodo )
મહા શિવરાત્રી (Gujarati)
ಮಹಾಶಿವರಾತ್ರಿ (Kannada)
മഹാ ശിവരാത്രി (Malayalam)
महा शिवरात्रि (Marathi)
महा शिवरात्रि (Nepali)
ମହା ଶିବରାତ୍ରି (Odia)
ਮਹਾਂ ਸ਼ਿਵਰਾਤਰੀ (Punjabi)
महा शिवरात्रि (Sanskrit)
மகா சிவராத்திரி (Tamil)
మహా శివరాత్రి (Telugu)
Observed byHindus in Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Mauritius, , Myanmar, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago
TypeReligious
Significanceself study, Night of married Shiva and Parvati, yoga[1]
ObservancesFasting, yoga, all night vigil, worship of Lingam[1]
2018 date13 February (Tuesday)[2]
2019 date4 March (Monday)[3]
FrequencyAnnual

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honour of Lord Shiva, and in particular, marks the day of the consummation of marriage of Shiva. There is a Shivaratri 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 Maha Shivaratri which means "the Great Night of Shiva".[5][6]

It is a major festival in 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 Shiva and chanting prayers, fasting, and meditating on ethics and virtues such as self-restraint, honesty, non-injury to others, forgiveness, and the discovery of Shiva.[6] The ardent devotees keep awake all night. Others visit one of the Shiva temples or go on pilgrimage to Jyotirlingams. This is an ancient Hindu festival whose origin date is unknown.[6]

In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or phonetically simpler Haerath or Herath by Shiva faithfuls of the Kashmir region.[7][8]

Description

A festival of contemplation

During the Vigil Night of Shiva, Mahashivaratri,
we are brought to the moment of interval
between destruction and regeneration;
it symbolizes the night
when we must contemplate on that which
watches the growth out of the decay.
During Mahashivaratri we have to be alone
with our sword, the Shiva out of us.
We have to look behind and before,
to see what evil needs eradicating from our heart,
what growth of virtue we need to encourage.
Shiva is not only outside of us but within us.
To unite ourselves with the One Self
is to recognize the Shiva in us.

The Theosophical Movement, Volume 72[9]

Maha Shivaratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and is particularly important in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night. Furthermore, unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.[6]

The celebration includes maintaining a "jaagaran", an all-night vigil and prayers, because Shaiva Hindus mark this night as "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in one's life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga.[10] In Shiva temples, "Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day.

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated over three or ten days based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar.[5] Every lunar month, there is a Shivaratri (12 per year). The main festival is called Maha Shivaratri, or great Shivaratri, which is held on 13th night (waning moon) and 14th day of the month Phalguna. In the Gregorian calendar, the day falls in either February or March. [5]