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Shiva rathri is one of the most auspicious vratas for the devotees of
Lord shiva. The purANas explain the grand significance of this vrata.
Especially Skandha Maha puraNa has the details of the way to observe the vrata.
History of shivaratri
Once when everything in all the worlds got reduced into Lord shiva,
in that darkness of nothing present, the mother pArvati worshipped
Lord shiva in the Agamic way with great devotion. The parameshwar
pleased by Her prayer blessed Her. She asked for the benefit of all
the creatures that in future whoever worships the Lord on the shiva
rAtri day with devotion, they should be blessed and should be given
the ultimate liberation. The pashupati granted that showing way for
all of us to get blessed easily.
When Brahma and Vishnu fought between themselves as "who is the
greatest", Lord Shiva appeared before them as a pillar of fire. They
were not able to find the starting and end of that pillar. This day is
Then Brahma and Mahavishnu repented for their mistake and prayed to
Lord Shiva for forgiving their sin worshiping the shiva li.ngam which
is the form of the flame. In the night of Shiva rathri Lord
Shiva appeared before them and blessed them. Devotees pray the God
throughout the night of Shiva rathri by performing Abisheka, chanting
and other holy deeds.
Every month in Krishna paksha chathurdhasi (fourteenth moonday) is
called masa Shiva rathri. The one that comes in the month of "Masi"
(mid February to mid March) is called Maha Shiva rathri. This is
considered as the most important vrata by the devotees.
There are many incidents told about the greatness of this day. Once a
hunter in a jungle after searching throughout the jungle, was quite
tired and could not get any animal. In the nightfall a tiger started
chasing him. to escape from that he climbed a tree. That was a Bilva
tree. The tiger sat under the tree waiting for him to come down. The
hunter who sat on a branch of the tree was quite tense and didn't want
to sleep. He was plucking the leaves and putting down as he was not
able to be idle. Below the tree there was a Shiva lingam. The whole
night went on like this. God was pleased with the Upavasa (hunger) and
the Pooja the hunter and the tiger did even without knowledge. He is
the peak of the grace. He gave the hunter and the tiger "Moksha".
In a Shiva temple on a Maha Shiva rathri day the lamp kept in the
altar was very dim. That time a mouse which came take its prey touched
the flame. Due to the heat it moved its head immediately. In the
process it kindled the lamp and the altar was illuminated well. Lord
Shiva, pleased by this deed made the mouse Mahabali, the renowned
There are many incidents like this told in our Puraanas. If we do
the vrata with pure devotion and love there can be no doubt about
getting the Grace of the Almighty.
When is shivaratri observed
ska.ndha purANam describes about four shiva rAtris. The first
one is nitya shivarAtri (daily shivarAtri - every night). The
second one is the mAsa shivarAtri which is observed on the kR^iShNa
paxa chaturdasi (fourteenth moonday on the moons diminishing phase).
The third one is the mAga prathamAdi shivarAtri which is
observed for the thirteen days starting from prathama titi in the month
mAga (mAsi) and on the chaturdasi night the Lord is worshiped throughout
The fourth one is observed on the mAsi (mAga) month kR^iShNa
paxa chaturdasi. This is the one observed in a widespread manner. It
is also called mahA shivarAtri.
Way of observing shivaratri
Getting up early in the morning one meditates on the
Infinitely Auspicious, ornated with thousands of splendid garlands,
Who is in the form of the holy symbol of shiva(mahA li.ngam).
Bathing and staying clean the worship of Lord shiva in the form of
shiva li.ngam is done in the four jamas of the night (four equal time
intervals of the night). (Note that the li.nga worship is explicitly
mentioned for this vratam as this is the time the God out of Its
grace for the benefit of pashus appeared in a formless-form that is
a symbol (li.ngam) from Its true nature of formlessness.)
1. Shiva ratri puja - in Tamil; in Bengali ; in Hindi ; in Gujarati ; in Kannada ; in Malayalam; in Marathi ; in Telugu ; in Roman script
2. Shivaratri dates for this year
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