Maha Shivaratri, also known as Maha Shivaratree, Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri, or Sivaratri, is a Hindu festival to honor a major Hindu deity, Shiva. The festival is observed on the 13th night or 14th day of Maagha or Phaalguna in Hindu calendar. Hindu people usually celebrate the festival by offering bael leaves to Lord Shiva.
Date of Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated on the 13th night or 14th day of the month Maagha or Phaalguna based on Hindu calendar. Due to different date calculations between Hindu and Gregorian calendar, the celebration date of Maha Shivaratri may change from year to year in Gregorian calendar.
When is Maha Shivaratri 2014?
Maha Shivaratri 2014 falls on Friday, 28 February 2014.
When is Maha Shivaratri 2013?
Maha Shivaratri 2013 falls on Sunday, 10 March 2013.
Origin of Maha Shivaratri
There are many legends and stories related to the commemoration of Maha Shivaratri. One of the most popular stories behind Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu legend about Samudera Manthan (churning of ocean). According to this legend, the Devas (gods) and Ashuras (demons) once joined hands to churn out Amrita (nectar of immortality) from the ocean. However, it was a pot of poison called Halahala which came out of the ocean together with many other things.
Halahala was very destructive that it was able to destroy the whole universe. Both Devas and Ashuras were unable to handle the poison, so they asked for Brahma’s help who then sought for Vishnu’s advice. Based on Vishnu’s advise, they found out that Shiva was the only one who could digest the poison and eliminate its destructive capacity.
Shiva drank the Halahala, but Parvati who was aware of her husband act tried to stop the poison by strangling his neck. So potent was the Halahala that it turned the color of Shiva’s neck to blue. Thus, Shiva is also known as N?laka??ha or Neelkanta which means the one with a blue throat. The day when Shiva drank Halahala is then commemorated as Maha Shivaratri.
Maha Shivaratri Celebration
Many Hindus celebrate Maha Shivaratri by offering fruits, flowers, milk, holy water, and bael leaves to Lord Shiva. They also take an early bath or swarm at certain temples to seek blessings from the deity. People believe that Maha Shivaratri is an auspicious day to seek blessings from Lord Shiva in order to erase their sins.
Some devotees also fast on the day of Maha Shivaratri and stay awake for a vigil along the night. They break the fast on the next morning by eating the offerings made by Hindu people on the previous day. Maha Shivaratri is also famous as a day when married women pray for their husbands’ good luck while the unmarried women pray to have a good husband just like Lord Shiva.