Maha Shivratri Special – Legend and Facts

Maha Shivratri Special – Legend and Facts

Maha Shivratri (Great Night of Shiva) is the most important festival for Hindu devotees of Lord Shiva. Maha Shivaratri falls on the 13th night/14th day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which corresponds to the month of February – March in Gregorian Calendar.

This year Maha Shivaratri 2024 falls on Friday, March 8, 2024 – Saturday, March 9, 2024.

Lord Shiva is known by various names, few of the most popular being, Bhole Nath, Damroo Wale, Mahadeva, Nataraja, Shankar, Jatashankar, Neelkanth. He is worshipped in form of Shivling symbolizing the beginning-less and endless cosmic pillar of fire representing the infinite nature of Lord Shiva. Flowers, incense and other offerings are made, while all through the day the devotees chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra dedicated to Lord “Om Namah Shivaya”.

Celebrations of Maha Shivaratri began with the break of the dawn on the Shivratri day and continue all though the night. Devotees observe fast and spend the day in devotion and worship of Lord Shiva. Many worshippers also participate in the jaagran or the night vigil organized in various Shiva temples across the country. Devotees believe that sincere observance of Shivaratri puja and all night worship of Lord Shiva will absolve them of all their sins and liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.

Legend associated with Maha Shivratri

There are various interesting legends related to the festival of Maha Shivaratri. Some believe that it was on the auspicious night of Shivaratri that Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava’, the dance of the primal creation, preservation and destruction. Another popular Shivratri legend stated in Linga Purana states that it was on Shivaratri that Lord Shiva manifested himself in the form of a Linga. Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as Mahashivaratri – the grand night of Shiva.

Marriage of Shiva and Shakti

Shiva Parvati marriage

According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. After the death of Sati, Shiva went into deep meditation. Sati was reincarnated as Parvati who wanted Lord Shiva to be her husband, so she wanted to please him & win his heart. She under went a deep meditation in which she gave her life to Shiva. Mahashivratri marks the union of Shiva and Parvati on the 14th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Phalguna.

The marriage was sanctified a day before Amavasya in the month of Phalgun. This day of the union of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated as Maha Shivratri every year.

The Legend of Neelakantha

Shiva drank poison

During the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan), a pot of Amrit and poison was produced. The poison was extremely toxic and have the capacity to destroy the universe. Lord Shiva saved the universe by drinking the poison. The poison was so potent that Lord Shiva was suffering from immense pain and his throat had also become blue. For this reason Lord Shiva is famously known as ‘ Neelakantha’. As part of the therapy, it was advised gods to keep Lord Shiva awake during the night. Thus, Gods kept a vigil in contemplation of Lord Shiva.

To amuse Shiva and to keep him awake, the gods took turn performing various dances and playing music. Since then this auspicious night is celebrated as Maha Shivrati – the night when Lord Shiva saved the world.

Lord Shiva performed Tandava

Shiva Tandav

Shiva known as Natraaj is the creator of the dance of every form. When Shiva first wife, Sati died he unleased his grief by performing the Rudratandava. This cosmic dance can bring any kind of destruction in the nature as it is the dance of creation, destruction, solace and liberation. Tandava depicts his violent nature as the destroyer of the universe.

This worried the gods as Shiva’s Rudra Tandava could have destroyed whole of creation and mankind. To interrupt it Lord Vishnu chopped Sati’s body into pieces which fell on earth. And wherever a piece fell, a Shaktipeetha emerged. It was on Shivratri night when Lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava Nrithya’ .

Shiva manifested himself as Linga


Once Brahma and Vishnu had a fight of who is superior to other. Then an incandescent tower appeared across the sky and Shiva emerged out of it ending the fight by demonstrating his superiority over the others. Vishnu turns himself into a boar and Brahma into a swan. Both of them try to their level best but cannot cross the huge Shiva Linga. Lord Shiva comes out of the Linga and declares himself as the greatest of all. Thus, Shivaratri is considered as the day of Shiva and his greatness.

Interesting Facts About Shivratri

  • Shiva Ratri literally means ‘ the night consecrated to Shiva’. He is both creator and destroyer.

  • Mahashivaratri is celebrated on the night before Amavasya, the night before and day of the new moon.

  • Shivratri is celebrated in every month of the luni-solar calendar but Maha Shivratri is celebrated only once in a year. In Maha Shivratri Maha means “Grand”. So, the grand night dedicated to celebrate this deity is called Maha Shivratri.

  • People generally fast the entire night, sing praises of Lord Shiva and worship him by staying awake the entire night.

  • Married women attain marital bliss and prosperous family life, while Unmarried women pray for being blessed with ideal husbands like Lord Shiva.

  • Shiva temples around the country are all well illuminated and decorated for the occasion.

  • One of the interesting aspects of Shiva Ratri is that on this day devotees and non-devotees alike freely indulge in smoking intoxicating substances such as marijuana and bhang for it is the only day in the annual calendar when marijuana is legal.

  • Those who worship Shiva on this night, staying awake through the night, are released from many lifetimes of sin.

  • Even the devotees of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna pray to Lord Shiva on this day as he is the greatest one and can bless them with special devotion and access to the Lord.

  • Many fairs and events are held at major Shiva temples throughout the country like Mahakaleshwar Temple in Ujjain, Kashi Vishvanath Temple in Varanasi. and Somnath Temple in Gujarat.

  • Mahashivratri is not only one of the magnificent festivals in India but also in Nepal and other regions where Lord Shiva is worshipped.

Maha Shivratri 2024: Wishes, Quotes, Messages

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.