Maha Shivratri Vrat, Puja & Katha: Hindu Mythology about ‘The Night of Shiva’

Mahashivratri Vrat, Pooja and Katha: The Night of Shiva
Mahashivratri Vrat, Pooja & Katha: The Night of Shiva
Om Namah Shivaya! Har Har Mahadeva! Shambhu Mahadeva!

This Panchakshara mantra or holy chant can easily be heard to hail Shiva in every Hindu house from early morning on this day. It is believed that on Maha Shivratri or ‘the great night of Shiva’, Maha Dev had performed the cosmic dance- Tandava Nritya and converged into Shakti (Parvati). So, this wedding day is celebrated with great delight.

The devotees of Shiva:

  • Offer water, milk, Bael or Bilval Vilvam leaves or golden apple to Shiva
  • Keep all-day fast, chanting Om Namah Shivaya
  • Perform penance (regret for wrong deeds) and to get the supreme of life, meditate remembering Mahadev.

Maha Shivratri: The Great Night of Lord Shiva

Mahashivratri word is made of three words: Maha (great), Shiva (Lord Shiva), and Ratri (night). In order to celebrate the festival, people rejoice in the night, hymn the praise of Shiva, and chant verses. Do Jagaran (vigil) all night long and stay awake in reverence of Lord Shiva.

Importance of Mahashivratri or Lord Shiva’s Favorite Day

  • As Maha Shivaratri is Shiva’s favorite day, the devotees consider it the most suitable day to please the Lord of destruction. They worship to gratify him to reach his abode and get rid of past sins, in order to get rid of the cycle of birth and death. The devotees try to find a way to be blessed with Moksha or salvation through this auspicious day.
  • According to Shiv-Purana, it has significance in spiritual growth.
  • The devotees consider this worship so auspicious that they rate it equivalent to organizing an Ashwamedha Yagna.

Maha Shivratri Vrat (Fast)

The mythology behind the Mahashivratri fast says that after keeping a-day-long fast and not eating food, a devotee learns to control the natural forces and manages to keep a hold on:

Rajas Guna: Force of qualities regarding motion, passion, energy, action, and preservation
Tamas Guna: Force of qualities regarding resistance to action, inertia, indifference, and destruction

It is also believed that after spending a day with the sole focus of complete devotion in feet of the almighty, a devotee the birth factors of Rajas: anger, lust, and jealousy are subdued and disregarded.

The evils of Tamas are conquered and dominated through observing vigils throughout the night (by Jagaran).

Rite Related to Maha Shivratri Fast

One day before Mahashivratri, both married and unmarried females are supposed to apply Mehandi as a pre-day ritual.

Date and Time of Maha Shivratri Pooja (Muhurat)

Mahashivratri is celebrated on every Phalgun-Krishna-Trayodashi (Hindi month-dark-13th date) or Phalgun-Krishna-Chaturdashi (Hindi month-dark-14th date). In regional language, the 13th and 14th days of the Hindi calendar are also known as Falgun Vadi Teras and Falgun Vadi Chaudas respectively.

According to the Hindi calendar, Krishn Paksha is the time span of the waning moon, which is considered dark fortnight. The day falls in the Gregorian calendar’s February or March as Phalgun corresponds to these months. The day is also spelled as Shivaratri, Shivarathri, Sivaratri, or Sivarathri and celebrated on a moonless night.

On the day, the ideal time to offer Shiva Pooja (worship) is considered Nishita Kala when the earth got blessed with the presence of Lord Shiva in form of Linga and that is why the pooja is called Lingodbhava pooja.

Maha Shivratri Pooja Vidhi (Worship in Customary Manner) According to Shiva-Purana

Mahashivratri Morning and Rituals

The devotee is supposed to take the sunrise bath this day, preferably using the water of the holy river- Ganga. This bath includes prayers to Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and Sun God. This is a general purification rite that Hindus perform on all the Holy festivals and celebrations. After wearing the fresh clothes, the temple is visited for further customary worship process.

To make a body pure, the fast-holding devotees first boil the water in black sesame seeds, and then take the bath with it, chanting the mantras. After donning the fresh clothes, the pooja is performed in the nearby temple.

One more custom is followed on the day, in which a platform of three tires is made around the fire. The top, middle, and bottom planks represent Swarga-Lok (heaven), Antariksha-Lok (space), and Bhu-Lok (earth) respectively. On the topmost plank, 11 Kalashes (urns) are organized to represent the 11 manifestations of destructive Mahadeva- Rudra. To symbolize the head of Lord Shiva, an uncut coconut is put; the shank represents the tangles hair-locks of Maha Deva. The entire set-up is decorated with Bilwas.

Shiva-Abhishek (Bathing of Shiva)

For Abhishek (sacred bath) of Shiv-Linga, six types of Dravyas (liquids) are used with chanting “Shri Rudram, Chamakam & Dasha Shantihi!” to please Shiva.

The Liquids and Mythology

  • Pure milk symbolizes goodness and purity.
  • Pure yogurt symbolizes progeny and riches.
  • Honey symbolizes sugary speech.
  • Ghee symbolizes victory.
  • Sugar symbolizes happiness.
  • Water symbolizes purity.

The Ritual Pooja of Maha Shivratri

Not only Shankarji (Lord Shiva) but Ganeshji and Nandi are also worshiped this day. They are also known as Nandi-Gann. It is believed that Naandiye are the greatest devotees of Bhole Nath Shankar and as Shivji adores their greatest bhakta (devotee), people worship them too to please Shivaji. Being Shiva Ji's son and worshiped firstly before any god, Ganeshji is also offered prayers.

The pooja is offered to Shiv-Linga all day and night every three hours. This is performed in reverberating sound of bells, chanting Om Namah Shivaya mantra. The mantra, bath with five liquids, and application of vermillion as a representation of virtue are the indispensable parts of Mahashivratri Pooja.

There come other things to please Lord Shiva:

Beel-Patra or Bilwa leaves: These are placed in the stalk of three leaves on the top of Shivalinga. Bilwa(s) are the leaves of a forest tree called Aegle Marmelos and also known as wood apple or Maredu.

The devotees believe that Goddess Lakshmi resides in these leaves. Some people associate it with cooling effects as Lord Shiva is considered a hot-tempered deity.

Ber or jujube fruit: It represents longevity and fulfillment of desires.
Betel Leaves: In order to mark the gratification of worldly pleasures.
Garland: The garland of flowers and leaves is put around the Shivalinga.
Light Lamps and Incense Sticks: Lamps represent the attainment of awareness and knowledge. The incense sticks are used to create a smell that makes the surroundings pleasant and sacred.

The fast is broken the next morning by eating prasad (eatables offered to God).

At some places, the worship begins by giving the ritual bath to the Lingam or Shivaling with the Panchagavya: sour milk, milk, butter, urine, and dung.

Maha Shivratri Pooja at Home

In Mahashivratri puja, people take the mixture of water and milk in a brass vessel (Peetal ka Lota or water container). Then a plate is prepared with the following worship items:

Kheel-Pataashe: Traditional Indian sweets
Jaggery: Gud
Roli: Red Powder, used to apply holy red mark called Teeka on forehead
Moli: Colorful (usually made of many thin threads of red, yellow, orange, and green colors) thread called Raksha-sutra (protecting cover)
Incense Sticks: Agarbatti
Lamp: Deepak or Diya
Supari: Areca Nut or Betel Nut
Clove: Laung
Cardamom: Ilaaichi
Fruits and Flowers: Phal-Phool
Bilwa Leaves: Bel-Patta (plucked in a group of three leaves in one set)
Datura fruit: Dhatura
Aankde/ akda/ akde ke Phool: Calotropis flower or milkweeds
Doob/ dub: Creeping grass or Panicum
Chandan: Sandalwood

In the case of the absence of Chandan, Haldi (turmeric) can be used.

Setting five stones indicating lord Ganesh, Shivji, goddess Parvati, lord Bhramha, and cow, Patwari (Also spelled as Pathwari) is worshiped. After completing these rituals, people take whole rice in an odd numbers (3, 5, 7) in Akshat hand (right hand) and listen to the Katha (religious story).

Maha Shivratri Pooja and Mythology

The bath, sound, smell, light, and other offerings are presented to aware all the senses and create an aura of focus towards sacredness. It makes one sense universe that every one of us belongs to.

When the followers bathe Shivalinga with water and milk, they believe that Lord Shiva will bestow the milk of wisdom and wash their sins.

When the Bel or Bilwas are offered in worship as they are cool in nature, it is believed that Mahadev will put out the scorching fire of worldliness and rescue them to another world. The devotees long for Nirvana that is a state of supreme peace and out of the circle of rebirth.

Do Gghad Chaddhana: Maha Shivratri Ritual and Mythology

If a mother has a son or her son has got married, she is supposed to perform this ritual called "Do Ghad Chadana" which means "to offer two pitchers".

One Chuklya (Chukaliya/Chukliya/Chukalya, that is pitcher) made of soil is filled with water. On this, one clean and pure lota (vessel) is put. This vessel is filled with milk that is not boiled.

These two containers are taken on the head by the mother's sister-in-law or neighbor or any Brahmin lady.

The mother takes the worship items on a plate and walks along with the lady. They all visit the temple of Lord Shiva together.

Some people perform this as a grand ceremony. They invite the nearby ladies too and drums are played throughout the way to the temple. The ladies sing religious songs (folk songs) to please their deities.

After reaching to the temple, the two containers are put along with Shivaji and the vessel having the mixture of milk and water is used for worship.

After completing the puja, the ladies get back to their homes singing those religious songs, and the Patashe are distributed among all of them. The person playing the drum is given money and sent from the temple after reaching it. Sometimes, he is bidden farewell after getting back home too.

Do's and Don'ts Rule for Maha Shivratri

What to Do

  • One can take Sahgaar/ Sahgar /Sahgari dishes (food items that do not breakfast). This food includes halva/ halwa made of potato, carrot, and calabash or bottle gourd. Sweet recipes also include pudding (kheer) made of Sabudane or Taal-Makhane. Other eatables that can be taken in this fast are Potato Sabji, Faafar, Puri, Pakodi, Dahi-bade, fried chips, nuts, and fruits.
  • Here, one thing to be taken care of for people keeping fast is, whatever dish they eat as Sahgar, it must be made using black salt (Saindha/ Sendha/ Kala Namak), black pepper (Kali Mirchi), and Sighada or Rajgira flour (Aata).
  • Where ladies take this Sahgar only once, children and old people can eat two times too. In the modern era, people take Sahgar for once, and so the proper food. Some keep fast, and some only perform worship.

What Not to Do

  • On this day, Bayana or Dakshina (donation) is not given.
  • Turmeric (Haldi), cumin (Jeera), Asafoetida (Hing/ Heeng), and cereal (Ann/ Anaaj/ corn) are believed to be prohibited to this day.
  • The Sahgar should not be made using cereals or their flour and white salt.

Maha Shivratri Story

Several mythologies are associated with this auspicious day, but the most believed one belongs to the union of Shiva and Shakti. It is said that Lord Shiva was in their most destructive form- Rudra and performing the cosmic dance- Tandava. This dance symbolizes destruction, primordial creation, and preservation. They took a posture and converged into Shakti. The day is cheered as a festival and celebrated as the wedding day of Shiva and Shakti.

Great Festival for Females- Mahashivratri

Maha-Shivratri holds special meanings to the wedded ladies. They offer worship to the Goddess Parvati (Shakti or Gaura) as she is believed to be the giver of Suhag (husband), marital bliss, and prosperous and long married life. The ladies pray for the well-being of their husbands and children.

It is evenly special to unmarried girls as this way they pray for an ideal husband like Shiva.

Mahashivratri Mantra & Popular Names of Lord Shiva

Mahamritunjay Mantra is said to create such vibrations that can ward off any evil power and even can get a person back from the mouth of death.


Om Trayambkam Yajamahe, Sugundhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukmiv-bandhnaan, Mriturmokshya Maamrataat


Om! Hey three-eyed Lord who is aromatic and flourishes the beings we offer worship!
May you get us free from the bondage of worldly life, such as cucumber…and release us from death, giving us an immortal state.

Names Chanted while Remembering the Lord Shiva

One of the Trinity ‘Bramha-Vishnu-Mahesh’, Shiva is worshiped with more than 1008 names, popularly as Bholenath, Mahadev, Shiva, Shankar, Shambhu, Mahesh, Rudra, Maheshvara, Soma, Bhairav, Bhuteshvar, Prajapati, Girijapati, Chandrapal, Chandraprakash, Gangadhara, and Kailashnath.

Maha Shivratri 2015

This auspicious night Mahashivratri is falling on 17 February 2015, which is Phalgun month's Trayodashi (13th) as per the Hindi calendar's tithi (date).

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