Holidays & Observances: Maha Shivaratri

For all the posts in this Holidays & Observances series, go here.

Prologue: I have been meaning to write a series about Holidays and Observances that we (my family and friends) follow in both India (my birth country) and USA (my adopted country). This series is dedicated to those. On a side note, perhaps I might witness some of the celebrations from other countries as well that may get their way into this series. šŸ™‚

Maha Shivaratri (= The Great Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in the honor of Lord Shiva. I am partial to Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna. So this is one of my favorite festivals. This festival commemorates the Wedding of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati; and also the occasion when He performs is divine dance called Tandava.

Although this is observed every month on the night before the new moon, once a year The Great Night of Shiva or Maha Shivaratri during late Winter or early Spring (Feb / Mar). This year (2023) it was on Saturday Feb 18th. Typically followers observe fast all day, perform their rituals and poojas to Lord Shiva after sun sets and then break their fast eating fruits or boiled / Steamed vegetables.

In the evening followers spend time chanting prayers and signing songs in praise of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This goes till midnight when the Maha Aarati is performed before followers go back home. Some spend all night staying awake.

I typically do fasting as much as I can. Which is what I did this time too. Fasted while eating a few dates during the day. Did my ritual pooja and then ended my fast with fruits for my night meal. I stayed awake till may be 10:30pmish. However, I went on a Eagle Viewing trip that day at Shepaug Dam and had most wonderful time watching the majestic Eagles for most of the day that day. šŸ™‚

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