4 steps to celebrating MahaShivratri

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MahaShivratri, “the Great Night of Shiva” is a popular Hindu festival of India and Nepal.  Celebrated on a new moon day, devotees revere Lord Shiva, the powerful ascetic deity and seek his blessings.


The mantra “Om Namah Shivaye” is chanted by devotees all day, who also fast on this day to honor Shiva.

ॐ नमः शिवाय॥
Om Namah Shivaye॥

Meaning: I bow to the almighty Shiva, who is the supreme Higher Self, the supreme Reality of all things living or otherwise.

Mantra chanting is a powerful way to connect with Shiva. Also called Bhole Nath, “the one who is easily pleased”, Shiva is said to fulfill his devotees’ desires quickly.

How to celebrate MahaShivratri

  • shutterstock_378174910Make an intention (Sankalp) to observe full day fast until next day. You can eat once during the day.
  • Shiva Puja (auspicious ritual ceremony) is performed at night. You can attend a puja at a temple, ashram or do it in solitude in your home.
  • Meditate and chant Shiva mantra “Om Namah Shivaye”
  • Perform Rudra Abhishek (‘Rudra’ is another name of Shiva, and ‘Abhishek’ means purification) by offering of honey, water, milk, and Bael leaves to the shiv-ling (pictured above). Incense sticks and clay lamps (diya) are also lit.


Mythical Stories around MahaShivratri

MahaShivratri is celebrated every year as per the lunar calendar in reverence of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of regeneration and destruction. Many stories make up the myths and significance for the celebrations.  Here are a couple:

  • shutterstock_94619407.jpgLord Shiva married Parvati on this auspicious day.  Before this, Shiva had lived the life of a recluse for many centuries, heartbroken over the tragic and gruesome death of his first wife Sati.  Parvati, in turn had to meditate for thousands of years to break Shiva’s penance, as per the legends.  When Parvati finally won Shiva’s heart through her love and devotion, their marriage was consecrated by Gods and humans alike, and is celebrated every year on a new moon day in the Hindu month of Magha.
  • Another story is that when the Gods and demons churned the ocean to get the nectar of immortality, a pot of poison came out. Lord Shiva ingested this poison, thus saving both mankind and the Gods. The poison lodged in Shiva’s throat, turning him blue. To honor this and the great Lord Shiva, MahaShivratri is celebrated.
  • The Shiv-ling is considered as a harbinger of life, and depicts our existence on Earth.  So, to prevent destruction on earth, the Shiv-ling is bathed on this auspicious night of MahaShivratri. Ancient Sanskrit texts (the Vedas, Mahabharat and the Puranas) describe the shiv-ling as the phallus of Shiva. Hindus consider the shiv-ling to symbolize the union of the male and female principles and the totality of all existence.

This year, MahaShivratri falls on the 21st of February, 2020. 

Powerful Shiva Mantra

Om namo hiranya bahade |
hiranya varnaya |
hiranya roopaya |
hiranya pataye |
Ambika pataya |
Uma pataye |
Pashupataye Namo Namaha |

Ishana Sarvavidyanam |
Ishwara Sarvabhutanam |
Brahmadhipati |
Brahmanodhipati |
Brahma Shivo me Astu Sada Shiv Om |

Tatpurushaya vidmahi |
Vakvishudhaya dhimahi |
Tanno Shiva Prachodayaat |

Oho devaya vidmahi |
Rudramurtaye dhimahi |
Tanno Shiva Prachodayaat |

Namaste Astu Bhagavan |
Vishweshvaraya |
Mahadevaya |
Trayambakaya |
Tripurantakaya |
Trikagnikalaya |
Kalagnirudraya |
Neelakantaya |
Mrityunjayaya |
Sarveshvaraya |
Sadashivaya |
Shriman Mahadevaya Namaha |

Om Shanti |Om Shanti |Om Shanti |

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