Some of the FAQs about the occasion are answered here:
- When is Mahashivratri?
The festival that celebrates the union of Shiva with Shakti falls in the month of Phalgun according to Hindu calendar, which is the month of February- March. This year Mahashivratri falls on March 1. It will start at 3:16 am on March 1 and end at 1:00 am on March 2.
- What is the history of Shivratri?
The legend of marriage of Shiva and Shakti is one the most important legends related to the festival of Mahashivaratri. The story tells us how Lord Shiva got married a second time to Shakti, his divine consort. According to legend of Shiva and Shakti, the day Lord Shiva got married to Parvati is celebrated as Shivaratri – the Night of Lord Shiva.There are many legends about the marriage of Shiva and Shakti and why mahashivratri is celebrated but what is the core belief for this day is that on this day Mahadeva and his love Parvati married today and consummated their marriage.
- What is the significance of Mahashivratri?
Mahashivratri signifies love, passion and togetherness in a married life. Shiva and Shakti are two forms of one energy and it is only together that they stand complete or powerful. This symbolises that a marriage is all about both the partners being in the relationship together and emerging strong at every step of life. If one falters, the other one should always stand in the way to correct it.
- How is it celebrated?
The celebration includesa “jaagaran”, an all-night prayer because it i believed that all through the night doing japa is like “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. In Shiva temples, “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day. Devotees praise Shiva through the recitation of Shiv Chalisa.
According to one legend in the Shaivism tradition, this is the night when Shiva performs the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction. The chanting of hymns, the reading of Shiva scriptures and the chorus of devotees joins this cosmic dance and remembers Shiva’s presence everywhere.
The major Jyotirlinga Shiva temples of India, such as in Varanasi and Somanatha, are particularly frequented on Maha Shivaratri. They serve also as sites for fairs and special events.