Maha Shivratri 2024

8 March 2024
All States    Regional holiday

Maha Shivaratri is celebrated during the night and day that comes just before the new moon. Many Hindus celebrate with special rituals dedicated to Lord Shiva, which includes prayers, going to temple, folk dances, and music. It is common to fast during Maha Shivaratri and to stay up all night at a place of worship singing hymns and verses of praise and devotion to Lord Shiva. Many devotees offer special food that is made from the fruits of the season, vegetables, and coconuts. People who fast only break their fast the next morning to eat the prasad - the food offerings that were offered to Shiva.

Married women observe the fast of Shivaratri and pray for the well being of their husbands and sons, while unmarried girls observe the fast in hopes of finding a good husband like Lord Shiva. They may perform the traditional Shivalinga puja ritual - where they circulate the Shivalinga three to seven times and then pour water, milk, yogurt, honey, sandalwood paste and/or rose water over it.

A very famous tradition associated with the Shivratri celebrations is drinking thandai, which is a drink made of bhang - cannabis, sweet almonds and milk. Maha Shivaratri is a gazetted holiday in India so government offices, post offices and banks are closed. Stores and other businesses and organizations may be closed or have reduced opening hours. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States but some cities may hold large celebrations for the occasion. There are many stories associated with Maha Shivratri which include the night that Lord Shiva performed the Tandav, a celestial dance of creation, preservation and destruction, and the legend of Lubdhaka. It also celebrates the wedding of Shiva and Sati, the mother divine.