Maha Shivaratri is one of the most important festivals for Shiva devotees across the world. Celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha on the 13th day of the 14th night of Maagha or Phalguna month ( February or March in the English calendar), the festival sees devotees singing praises to Shiva while observing a rigorous fast for absolution of sin and moksha on this day.
The worshippers begin the day by taking a dip in the holy waters of river Ganga before sunrise. They fill a pot full of water from the holy river, before they proceed to the Shiva temples to offer prayers and sacrifices. They offer holy water, followed by milk, bel leaves and fruits at the Shivalingam. The religious acts are performed with a sense of utmost devotion. The devotees show their gratitude to Shiva god, for having saved the world.
Watch a Maha Shivaratri special video here
According to popular mythology, during Samudra Manthan, or when the gods and demons churned the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, a pot of poison emerged from the waters first. And Shiva saved everybody else by carefully holding the poison in his throat, which as a result turned blue. The devotees also chant hymns and shlokas like “Shankerji ki Jai” and “Mahadevji ki Jai” continuously in the temples. It is believed that this is the day that Shiva performed Tandava or the dance of creation, preservation and destruction. It is also believed that it was this night that Shiva and Parvati got married.
Married women pray for the well-being of their husbands and children, unmarried women on this day pray to Parvati goddess asking for a good husband. Worshippers smear holy ash on their forehead just like Shiva and wear Rudraksha garlands. While many devotees observe rigorous fasting on this day, they eat fruits, sabudana kheer, ramdana and kattu halwa.
As you prepare yourself spiritually to pray for Shiva god’s blessings, here are the puja vidhi and fast timings for the festival.
Nishita Kaal Puja Time for Mahashivaratri 2017: 24:08 to 24:59
February 25: Mahashivaratri 2017 Parana Time: 06:54 to 15:24
Ratri First Prahar Puja Time: 18:13 (06:13 pm) to 21:23 (09:23 pm)
Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time: 21:23 (09:23 pm) to 24:33 (00:33 am)
Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time: 24:33 (00:33 am) to 27:44 (03:44 am)
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time: 27:44 to 30:54 (03:44 am) to (06:54 am)