Significance of Mahashivratri Festival


Geetha Patil

Shivratri occurs on the 14th day of every lunar month, a day prior to the new moon whereas Maha Shivratri, the ‘great night of Shiva’ occurs only once a year in the late winter (February/March) on the Parva of Thrayodashi and ChaturdashiTithi of Krishna Paksha during Phalguna Maasa.

This night marks a remembrance of “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in life and in the world since during this time, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being that pushes one towards one’s spiritual peak.

Unlike most Hindu festivals that include expression of cultural revelry, Maha Shivratriis a solemn event and celebrated at night because it provides an opportunity for introspective focus, fasting, meditation, self-study, social harmony and Jāgran (an all-night vigil) at Shiva temples that benefits those on religious paths like yogis, Gurus, and others as well. The devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva, through the day and night and praise Shiva through the recitation of Shiv Chalisa.

In Shaivism, Sadashiva is considered as the highest form of Shiva and perceived as one who is eternally pure, happy, loving, and auspicious. He is usually depicted with five faces, representing the five elements and five powers of Shiva with his 10 hands. In yoga and Shastras, it is believed that by strong meditation, one can find Sadashiva deep within oneself.

Maha Shivratri is mentioned in several Puranas, particularly Skanda Purana, Linga Purana and Padma Purana that describe fasting, paying of reverence to Lingam, the icon of Shiva. Different legends define the significance of Maha Shivratri. According to one legend, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction.

The chanting of Shiva Namavali, the reading of Shiva Puran, and the chorus of devotees augment this cosmic dance and gives us a sense of Shiva’s presence everywhere. According to another legend, this is the night when Shiva and Parvati got married. A different legend states the offering of payers to lingam helps to get over the past sins if any, restart on a virtuous path, and thereby gain liberation.

Shiv Pt Jayanarayan
Shiv Pt Jayanarayan

The significance of participating in the Shivratri puja is highlighted in Shiva Purana. Gunanidhi, a Brahmin boy picked up all bad and vice habits due to his bad company and thrown out of his house because he started stealing things at house. One day, to quench his hunger, he wanted to steal some food items from the Shiva temple. After entering temple shrine, he sees the oil lamp is about to flicker off. He quickly tore his kurta and used a strip as substitute wick to light up the lamp and then he tried to hurry out with some food items.

Devotee beat him up so hard that eventually he dies. The dootas of death arrive to dispatch the sinful soul of Gunanidhi to the burning hell. However, ganas (guards) of Lord Shiva intervened by saying that Gunanidhi had earned a place in the divine domain of Lord Shiva by participating in Lord Shiva worship, lighting the lamp after fasting for two days before his death, although done unwittingly yet the reward is granted by the grace of lord. He thus has been salvaged.

Maha Shivratri is celebrated as an anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is also observed as a day when Shiva saved the world from the pot of poison. And also, this day marks when Brahma and Vishnu got involved in an argument about their supremacy and they decided on a competition to find out the end of a Shiva Lingam that came out of the ground right between the two of them and started growing beyond atmosphere. Vishnu started digging into the earth to find out the end of Lingam and Brahma got on his swan, and he started going up to find out the other end of Lingam. Vishnu did not find the bottom of the Shiva Lingam and gave up after his maximum effort.

However, Brahma came back and said that he could find out the end of Lingam on top and gota Mallika flower as an evidence. Shiva shouted at the flower and said that Brahma never took you from the top of Lingam. Nobody can measure the limits of infinity. Both flower and Brahma are lying. As a punishment, Lord Shiva cuts off one of the five heads of Brahma by saying ‘I’m not going to accept any words that come out of the mouth that spoke the lie’ and henceforth, Mallikaflowerswill not be placed in my worship.

Maha Shivratri is considered auspicious and important for the following reasons such as liberation from the past sins or bad karmas, attainment of moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death and married women attain marital bliss, long and prosperous family life.

On behalf of the temple management, Pt. Jayanarayan Badal Ji invites everyone cordially to Maha Shivratri Program on Tuesday, March 1, 2022 at Shri Mariamman Temple, Opa-locka, Florida. For more information, visit:

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