Maha Shivaratri for the year 2021 is celebrated/ observed on Thursday, March 11. An annual Hindu festival, Maha Shivaratri gives reverence to the Lord Shiva god. The festival is also known as ‘Great Night of Shiva’ or ‘Shivaratri’.
This year, Maha Shivaratri will be celebrated on March 11 across India. Shiva, the god of destruction, is worshipped on this day.
Why is Maha Shivaratri celebrated?
Maha Shivaratri is one of the biggest annual celebrations in the Hindu calendar and it is held to honour Lord Shiva, who is one of the main deities in the religion.
Shiva is part of holy trinity in Hindu mythology, along with Brahma and Vishnu, and is also called Maha Ishwar (Great God).
The reason for celebrating Lord Shiva can vary slightly depending on the region that you are from, as the are differing stories on why the day is celebrated. Some consider the festival to celebrate when he drank poison to protect the universe, while others feel it represents the night he performed a dance of creation, preservation and destruction. Another belief is that it celebrates the union of Lord Shiva and the Goddess Paravati.
Many married women observe fast for the entire day, praying for the longevity of their husbands.
According to popular belief, anyone who utters the name of Shiva during this period with purity gets liberated from the cycle of birth and death, and achieves moksha (enlightenment).
How is Maha Shivaratri celebrated?
People keep fasts, stay up all night to chant devotional songs. Known to be one of the most easy-to-please gods, Shiva is believed to be happy with devotees if they offer him woodapple leaves, cold water and milk with utmost devotion.
Temples of Lord Shiva are decorated on this day and is visited by many disciples. In Ujjain, one of the 12 jyotirlingas, people bring out processions on the road and hail the greatness of Shiva.