Shiva Ratri - Shivaratri


Shiva Ratri Day / Night

***** Location: Nepal, India,
.........other Hindu Communities
***** Season: Early Spring
***** Category: Humanity


ratri (raatri) means night.



This is Shiva Ratri Day in Neapl. It is the day in which Hindu people spend time singing and praising hymns of Shiva and Parvati.

Bamdev Sharma


Quote from the Nepal Home Page
Nepal is the only Hindu kingdom in the world and thus the land of Lord Shiva, Lord of all Lords, for here you can feel his presence everywhere. Even in the sacred texts of the Hindus it has been stated that Mt. Kailash in the Himalayas is the abode of Lord Shiva or Mahadeva as he is also known. Shiva the Destroyer of Evil is among the most praised and worshipped of all the gods in the Hindu religion. Hindus all over the world know him through different names and forms. The country has thousands of idols and monuments, which glorify his name, the most common one being the Shiva Linga or the phallus of Shiva that represents him. For it is the Shiva linga that Hindus regard as the symbol of creation, the beginning of everything.

Shiva Ratri is the night of Lord Shiva when He himself was created by His own Divine Grace and Hindus all over the world celebrate this day with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Shiva Ratri literally means ' the night consecrated to Shiva'.

This auspicious festival falls on the fourteenth day of the waning moon in the month of Falgun, (February - March in the Gregorian calendar ). The temple of Pashupatinath in Kathmandu which is considered as one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus, glorifying Lord Shiva, thus receives more than 100,000 worshippers during the festival of Shiva Ratri. These worshippers come from far and wide to pay their respects and homage to Mahadev on his sacred day.

Pashupatinath temple is located at the eastern part of the Kathmandu valley on the banks of the holy river Bagmati. Pashupatinath, which literally means The Lord of animals is one of the many forms of the Lord. He is the guardian deity, protector of our Hindu Kingdom of Nepal, thus Shiva Ratri is one of the major festivals of Nepal. Pilgrims from all over Nepal as Pashupatinath Temple well as India come to Pashupatinath to worship and pray to the deity on his birthday and wash away all the sins committed by them. Only Hindus are allowed inside the temple and tourists are only permitted to observe the festival from across the Bagmati river.

Shiva Ratri is a much anticipated festival by all Hindus. Pilgrims and yogis (holy men), from all over Southeast Asia come to Kathmandu weeks before the festival. On this holy day people fast through out the day. At dawn, worshippers take a holy bath or dip in the river and go to the temple to worship.

One of the interesting aspects of Shiva Ratri is that on this day devotees and non-devotees alike freely indulge in smoking intoxicating substances such as marijuana and bhang for it is the only day in the annual calendar when marijuana is legal.

Many people take these intoxicants in the belief that it pleases Lord Shiva for he too is said to be fond of it. Thus marijuana is taken as prasad, holy food blessed by the Gods and one can see eager tourists and faithful Nepalese flocking around the temple complex of the Ram Janaki Mandir across the Bagmati river opposite to the main temple complex of Pashupatinath lingering around sadhus and babas in the hope for some prasad from them.

The Puran, one of the many holy texts of the Hindus, tells us that if you worship Lord Shiva on this day all your sins will be forgiven. Giving an examle the puran talks about an event that occurred ages before about a hunter from Benares. This man worshipped Lord Shiva unknowingly on Shiva Ratri and he was forgiven for all his sins.

On Shiva Ratri the temple of Pashupatinath is filled with worshippers. Devotees are not distinguished as poor or rich but treated equally for Lord Shiva treats us all equally. Even the King of Nepal and the royal family pay homage to the Pashupatunath on this day along with the thousands that gather to celebrate the festival. Thus the festival of Shiva Ratri shows the devotion and faith Nepalese have towards the Hindu religion.

Article by Avigya Karki.
Photographs collected from Deependra Bajracharya and Madhup Mangal.
© Nepal Home Page



Maha Shivratri (Hindi:महाशिवरात्रि, Kannada:ಮಹಾ ಶಿವರಾತ್ರಿ, Tamil:மகா சிவராத்திரி, Telugu:మహాశివరాత్రి,
is a Hindu festival celebrated every year in reverence of Lord Shiva. Alternate common names/spellings include Maha Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivaratri. Shivaratri literally means the great night of Shiva or the night of Shiva. It is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the Maagha or Phalguna month of the Hindu calendar.
Since many different calendars are followed by various ethno-linguistic groups of India, the month and the Tithi name are not uniform all over India. Celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha(waning moon) of the month of Maagha according to the Shalivahana or Gujarati Vikrama or Phalguna according to the Vikrama era.

The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil. In accordance with scriptural and discipleship traditions, penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's summum bonum steadily and swiftly.

A week long International Mandi Shivratri Fair held at Mandi in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh every year is one of the major tourist attractions in the state.
More in the Wikipedia


Kerala, India

Maha Shiva Ratri or the Night of Lord Shiva, commemorates the day on which the Father of the Gods saved the world by drinking the deadly Kaalakoodum poison.

Fasting and worship marks the day for the worship of Shiva. Devotees visit the numerous Shiva Temples - both big and small - around the state and smear their bodies with holy ash while chanting prayers to the Lord. The prayers go on all through the night and early next morning, after a purifying bath, prayers are offered once again to Shiva.

The most famous of the Maha Shiva Ratri celebrations are held in Aluva, on the banks of the Periyar River.

An idol of the Lord is created on the sandy bank of the river for the thousands of pilgrims, who visit it to offer their prayers. People from all walks of life assemble for the great fair that is held. An exhibition and sale of goods is on during the celebrations. Cultural shows and dances are staged through the night to keep the pilgrims awake. Many devotees offer sacrifices to their ancestors in the morning after the holy night.
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Maha Shiva Raatri

© Pandit Bhadase Maharaj

Maha Shiva Raatri means the great night of Lord Shiva and it is observed on the fourteenth lunar night(chaturdasi)of the dark forthnight(Krishna Paksh) in the Hindu month of Phalgun. This corresponds to late February and early March in the English calendar.
Maha Shiva Raatri's time duration is such that the lunar day or thithi (chaturdasi in this case)must pass through midnight.A great deal of preparation is involved in order to celebrate this religious event since it requires the performance of Pooja(prayers).
Lord Shiva is the Devta or diety worshipped here. His worship is done in the form of a Lingam Pooja.

The Lingam is a stone with an oval shape and it represents the abstract form of God.
During Maha Shiva Raatri, Hindus in Trinidad observe fasting. They abstain from eating and drinking forbidden foods and they will make all the necessary preparations for the Pooja which begins at sunset.

Actually, the complete Maha Shiva Raatri Pooja consists of four individual poojas.The first Pooja starts at sunset and with two hour intervals,the remaining three is done. The last one must finish at midnight. A vigil is maintained all night until before sunrise of the next morning. Bhajans and kirtan (hymns and praises) are encouraged in order to maintain this vigil and also discourses relevant to the occasion are read.

The first Pooja culminates with the offering of milk; at the end of the second Dahee or curds are offered ; at the end of the third Ghee (cow's butter) is offered and at the end of the last Pooja, honey is offered on the Lingam.

From midnight until before sunrise next morning, Jal or water is offered on the Lingam . However, the most important article of worship in this Pooja is Bail leaves (the leaves of the wood apple tree). These leaves are exceedingly loved by Lord Shiva and the offering of same brings some form of spiritual elevation to the person who has made such an offering. In order to achieve the maximum benefits,the services of a qualified Pandit (Hindu priest) is very important in performing this Pooja.

Important Notes On Maha Shiva Raatri.....

Lord Shiva grants His blessings to His devotees who worships Him on the night of Maha Shiva Raatri.Worshiping Him on this night promotes spiritual growth.

Maha Shiva Raatri does not in any way relate to the birthday or the wedding of Lord Shiva.Any such discourses read on this night is purely coincidental and does not indicate that these incidents took place on the night of Maha Shiva Raatri.

Care should be taken in the selection of a Lingam. A Lingam with an image of Lord Shiva and /or His consort Parvati or a snake as is commonly seen, is NOT considered as a Lingam but as a Murti. Therefore, it is not appropriate to use such, as a Lingam for this purpose. The Lingam is a representation of the infinite form of God, without beginning and without end and this cannot be effectively represented by a Lingam with a human resemblance.

The offering of Jal (water) on the Lingam should NOT extend on to daytime of the following day. The word Raatri means night and any worship that extends into daytime violates the concept of night and day and constitutes sin.

Shiva Raatri.....

Shiva Raatri occurs once a month on the night of the fourteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksh or the dark forthnight.There are eleven Shiva Raatris in a year but in Malmaas, there is one more and in Kshai Maas there is another. Lord Shiva is worshipped at this time with all the grandeur of Maha Shiva Raatri.The worship of the Murti can also be done at this time.

The importance of time.....

Since Maha Shiva Raatri must go past midnight of the night in question, the chances are that the thithi or lunar day (chaturdashi in this case) might not last until the next morning. For example, it might finish at two o'clock in the morning; how does this affect the proceedings?

The celebrations can continue as normal and conclude at two o'clock in the morning or it can continue and conclude before the sun rises.This would be a matter of personal choice. In any event, both ways are in accordance with the Shastric (recommended) principles and are acceptable.

Pandit Bhadase Maharaj

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

waning moon-
she places bilva leaves
on the Shiva lingam

all day long
the temple bells resound
- Mahashivratri

Angelee Deodhar
March 2013

Bael (Aegle marmelos)
(also known as Bengal quince, stone apple or wood apple), Bilva is a species of tree native to India.
The Bilva tree grows in almost all parts of India, irrespective of the nature of the soil, and is bitter, astringent and dry by nature. Tall and austere, with a stern aspect, gnarled trunk and sharp thorns, the Bilva is undoubtedly Lord Shiva’s tree. Shiva is always worshipped with its leaves, and it is said that this tree is much loved by him.

The lingam (also, linga, ling, Shiva linga, Shiv ling, , liṅgaṃ, meaning "mark", "sign", "inference" ) is a representation of the Hindu deity Shiva used for worship in temples

"If you make the slightest effort to progress along the path of liberation, the Lord will help you a hundred-fold. Shivaratri conveys that hope to you. The moon, which is the presiding deity of the mind of man, wanes until the fourteenth day after full moon. It is just a tiny curve of glimmering glow. The mind should be starved into the condition, so that man becomes free.
Spend all the days with Shiva, and the conquest of the mind is easy. Spend the fourteenth day of the waning moon with Shiva, reaching the climax of the spiritual effort on the final day, and success is yours. That is why all Chaturdashis of the dark haif of every month are called Shivaratris, that is why the Chaturdashi of the Magha month is called Mahashivaratri.
That is a day of special dedication to Shiva."

Nataraja's dance
having drunk the soma -
He moves mountains

Angelee Deodhar


under the veil of horizon
to become fire.

morning chase
falcon's headlong dart
coloured by rainbow.

Bamdev Sharma, Nepal, 2006


Shiva raatri ~
"Aum Nama Shivaaya' resonates
in camphor fumes

bhakta saagaram
shiva raatri mahaatmyam
pratyaksham shiva rahasyam
[ Sanskrit]

ocean of devotees ~
Shiva raatri's greatness
makes visible
Shiva's mysteries

Narayanan Raghunathan


great Shiva Night -
the stray dogs downstream
find extra rations

Gabi Greve, Nepal 1979


Maha Shivaratri -
the drunken friends
stagger home

Shared by Satdeep Gill
Joys of Japan, February 2012

Related words

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Narayanan Raghunathan said...

ekaanta dhyaanam
om nama shivaaya iti beejam
maha shivaraatri
[Sanskrit ]

one pointed dhyana
om nama shivaaya is the seed
Maha Shiva Raatri

Anonymous said...


All About Shiva

Shiva is referred to as 'the good one' or the 'auspicious one'. Shiva - Rudra is considered to be the destroyer of evil and sorrow. Shiva - Shankara is the doer of good.

Shiva is 'tri netra' or three eyed, and is 'neela kantha' - blue necked (having consumed poison to save the world from destruction. Shiva - Nataraja is the Divine Cosmic Dancer. Shiva - Ardhanareeswara is both man and woman.

Read it all HERE


. Gabi Greve said...

Shiva-raatri dawn ~
again, i look out to see
if there is any light


shivaraatri ~
aattam-karayil oru paati thaniye
nama shivaaya japichundu
[ Tamizh, Tamil ]

Shiva-raatri ~
on the river bank a grandma alone
reciting "nama shivaaya"

Note ~
nama shivaaya ~ I worship Lord Shiva

Narayanan Raghunathan, February 2007