Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in honor of Lord Shiva. It is observed on the 14th night of the new moon during the Hindu month of Phalguna or Maagha. During the festival, devotees offer prayers, perform puja, and fast to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva. It is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva performs his cosmic dance, and hence, it is considered an auspicious day to worship him. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated throughout India and in some other parts of the world with great enthusiasm and devotion.

Maha Shivaratri 2023
Mahashivratri will be observed on Saturday, February 18, 2023. It is observed on the 14th day of the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna, which usually falls in the months of February or March in the Gregorian calendar.

Preparations for Maha Shivaratri 2023

Mahashivratri is the day to honor and celebrate Lord Shiva—honor the life and celebrate existence. Most people spend the day of Mahashivratri in prayer, meditation, and celebration. Here is a list of what to do on Mahashivratri:

Observe Fasting
Chant Om Namah Shivaya
Attend Mahashivratri Puja or Rudra Puja
Worship the Shivalinga

(1) Observe fasting on the day of Mahashivratri
Fasting detoxifies the body and curtails the restlessness of the mind. A mind that is not restless slips into meditation easily. Therefore, fasting on Mahashivratri serves to detoxify the body and aid meditation. It is recommended to fast with fruits or foods that are easily digestible. Learn more about Mahashivratri fasting guidelines.

(2) Meditate on Mahashivratri
The position of the constellations on the night of Mahashivratri is considered very auspicious for meditation. So, it is advisable for people to keep awake and meditate on Shivaratri.
In ancient times, people used to say, ‘If you cannot meditate every day, do so for at least one day in a year – on Shivratri day – keep awake and do meditation’.

(3) Chant Om Namah Shivaya
‘Om Namah Shivaya’ is the perfect mantra to chant on Mahashivratri, as it immediately elevates your energy.
‘Om’, in the mantra, refers to the sound of the universe. It means peace and love. The five letters, ‘Na’, ‘Ma’, ‘Shi’, ‘Va’, and ‘Ya’ in ‘Namah Shivaya’ indicate the five elements – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.
Chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ harmonizes the five elements of the universe. When there is peace, love, and harmony in all the five elements, then there is bliss and joy.
Along with OM Namah Shivay Chanting, you can chant – Shiv Tandav Stotram and Kaal Bhairav Ashtakam

(4) Attend Mahashivratri Puja or Rudra Puja
Rudra Puja or Mahashivratri Puja is a special ceremony performed to honor Lord Shiva. It involves singing special Vedic mantras accompanied by certain rituals. Rudra Puja brings positivity and purity to the environment and transforms negative emotions. Participating in the Puja and listening to the chants helps the mind slip into meditation effortlessly.
Meditate to the chants of the auspicious Mahashivratri Puja at The Art of Living International Center, Bengaluru.

(5) Worship the Shivalinga
The Shivalinga is a symbolic representation of the formless Shiva. Worshipping the Shivalinga includes offering ‘Bel Patra’ (leaves of the bel tree) to it. Offering ‘Bel Patra’ represents offering three aspects of your being – rajas (the aspect of you that is responsible for activity), tamas (the aspect of you that brings inertia), and sattva (the aspect of you that brings positivity, peace, and creativity). These three aspects affect your mind and actions. Surrendering the three to the Divine brings peace and freedom.

Celebrating Maha Shivaratri Around the World

Maha Shivaratri is primarily celebrated in India, but it is also observed in many other parts of the world where there is a significant Hindu population. Countries such as Nepal, Mauritius, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Trinidad and Tobago celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm and devotion.

In Nepal, the festival is celebrated with much fanfare, and the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu has become the center of attraction. In Mauritius, devotees walk long distances barefoot to reach the Grand Bassin, which is a sacred lake where they offer prayers to Lord Shiva.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, the festival is celebrated by the Tamil Hindu community, which organizes special prayer sessions and cultural events. In Trinidad and Tobago, the festival is celebrated as an official public holiday, and thousands of devotees gather at the Siewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir to offer prayers to Lord Shiva.

Overall, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated with great fervor and devotion by millions of devotees worldwide, who seek the blessings of Lord Shiva and strive to attain spiritual enlightenment.

Maha Shivaratri’s Roots in Ancient India

The roots of Maha Shivaratri can be traced back to ancient India, where it is believed to have originated from the merging of various traditions and cultures. The festival finds its mention in several Hindu scriptures, including the Puranas and the Vedas. According to mythology, it is believed that on this day, Lord Shiva consumed poison to save the world from destruction. This act of sacrifice by Lord Shiva is commemorated by devotees who fast and offer prayers to seek his blessings. The festival has also been associated with the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, which is celebrated as a symbolic union of male and female energies. Maha Shivaratri’s roots can be traced to the ancient Vedic period, and it has since evolved into a significant cultural and religious celebration in India and around the world.

The Impact of Maha Shivaratri on Hindu Culture

Maha Shivaratri has a significant impact on Hindu culture and society. It is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated with great enthusiasm and devotion. The festival is an occasion for people to come together, offer prayers, and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.

The festival has a deep spiritual significance, and it is believed that observing fast and offering prayers can lead to spiritual enlightenment. The festival also serves as a reminder of the need for self-control, self-discipline, and spiritual awakening.

Maha Shivaratri has also contributed to the development of Hindu culture and traditions. It has inspired the creation of numerous works of art, literature, and music, which celebrate the glory and magnificence of Lord Shiva. The festival has also played a significant role in the development of the Hindu calendar and the organization of Hindu religious practices.

By sophia

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