Mahashivratri, which is being celebrated with immense fervour and pious spirit at several places across India, is the festival of convergence of Lord Shiva and Shakti. This year, the Hindu festival, also known as the 'Great night of Lord Shiva', falls on Monday, March 4, 2019. While many observe the holy day as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, Puranas suggests that Shivratri marks the night when Lord Shiva saved the man kind, consuming a pot full of poison waked during Samudra Manthan, the mythical churning of the ocean. Moving on to the Shaivism tradition, Mahashivratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the divine dance of creation, preservation and destruction.
While Shivratri is celebrated on the 14th day of each month of the lunar calendar, Mahashivratri comes only once in a year, generally before the arrival of summer. On this holy day, devotees worship Lord Shiva and seek his divine guidance. In Kashmir Shaivism, the festival is called Har-ratri or Herath.
Devotees in large number throng to temple to observe the special Mahashivratri fast and offer fruits and milk to the Shivaling, an iconic representation of their beloved deity Shiva. While some perform Puja to pray for moksha or salvation, many women pray to be blessed with a good husband. Many temples across the country organise fairs and cultural programmes to mark the occasion. From standing in long temple queues to munching on traditional dishes, the festival not only celebrates the divinity of Lord Shiva but also brings families together.
While fasting is a significant part of custom, the rituals also call for preparation of satvik delicacies that are consumed during the fast and after breaking the fast post offering the final prayers. Fruits are an irreplaceable part of every religious festival in India. From offering to the deities to consuming during fast, no celebration is complete without fruits. On Shivratri, many devotees, after performing their morning prayers, indulge in some lips smacking fruit chaat.
For people who like to constantly munch on something to feel full, dry fruits are the best option. A bowl of dry fruits is perfect to keep the stomach busy so that is doesn’t constantly crave for food. In beverages, people consume fresh fruit juice, milk, tea, fruit milk shakes, thandai and lemonade.
Potato chips, sabudana khichdi and tikki, kuttu atta pakaodas and millet pulao are considered satvik food items and are consumed during and post fast. Dry fruit kheer, badam barfi, coconut barfi, potato halwa, rabdi and sabudana kheer are some of the traditional desserts that are considered the heart of this festival.
This year’s Mahashivratri has a special significance as it also marks the culmination of Ardh Kumbh Mela, the mass Hindu pilgrimage, held in Uttar Pradesh's Prayagraj from January 15. On this auspicious day, devotees will take the last holy dip in the sacred waters considered a confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati rivers.
Devotees will conclude the festival by chanting some powerful Shiva mantras including Om Namah Shivaay, chanted for eradicating fear, Om Namo Bhagwate Rudraay, to seek Lord Shiva's blessings, and Mahamrityunjay mantra, to increase increasing longevity.
Mahashivratri 2019 puja muhurat and time:
The celebration will start from early hours of morning and will continue till late at night. This year, the Chaturdashi Tithi begins at 4.28 pm and ends at 7.07 am on the next day that is March 5.
Nishita Kaal Puja Time: 12:18 am to 1:07 am.
Mahashivaratri Parana Time: 6:54 am to 15:37 pm on March 5.
Ratri First Prahar Puja Time: 6:31 pm to 9:37 pm.
Ratri Second Prahar Puja Time: 9:37 pm to 12:43 am.
Ratri Third Prahar Puja Time: 12:43 am to 03:48 am.
Ratri Fourth Prahar Puja Time: 03:48 am to 06:54 am.