Maha Shivratri is an important Hindu festival celebrated annually in the honour of Lord Shiva, who is regarded as one of the three in the holy trinity in Hinduism. The festival is observed across the country by fasting and offering prayers to the deity. This year, Maha Shivratri falls on February 18, which is a Saturday.
On this day, married women pray for the well-being of their husbands, while unmarried women pray to have a husband like Lord Shiva, who is regarded as the ‘ideal husband’.
The roots of Maha Shivratri’s significance lie deep in Hindu mythology; however, there are several legends associated with this day. The most widespread legend tells the story of Shiva and Shakti’s marriage. The story tells us how Shiva got married to Shakti, his divine consort, for a second time on this night. It is in celebration of their divine union that the day is celebrated as ‘The Night of Lord Shiva’.
According to another legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva saved the world from darkness by drinking a poisonous potion, which was produced during the churning of the oceans by the Gods and the demons. It is because of this legend that the day is said to be a symbolic celebration to dispel darkness and ignorance and to move ahead in life with a renewed sense of consciousness.
A different legend states that Lord Shiva performed the hypnotic and heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction, called Rudra Tandava, hen he heard the news of his consort Sati’s immolation.
It is believed that the whole night duration can be divided into four prahars to perform the Shiva Puja four times. According to Drikpanchang.com, this year these prahars will be observed according to the following schedule:
Ratri First Prahar Puja Time – 06:13 pm to 09:24 pm
Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time – 09:24 pm to 12:35 am, Feb 19
Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time – 12:35 am to 03:46 am, Feb 19
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time – 03:46 am to 06:56 am, Feb 19
Chaturdashi Tithi Begins – 08:02 pm on Feb 18, 2023
Chaturdashi Tithi Ends – 04:18 pm on Feb 19, 2023
Drikpanchang.com states that the Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Magha is known as Maha Shivaratri, according to South Indian calendar. However, according to the North Indian calendar, Masik Shivaratri in the month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. In both calendars, it is the naming convention of the lunar month that differs. Nevertheless, Hindus all across the globe celebrate Maha Shivaratri on same day, irrespective of the calendar they follow.