‘Shivaratri’ means ‘Auspicious Night’. The fourteenth day of the dark half of every month is called Shivaratri. The one in the month of Magh (February- March) is called Mahashivaratri.

Why is Shivaratri considered auspicious? The moon has 16 Kalas (aspects) and so does the mind. On the day of Shivaratri, 15 are merged and only one remains. The remaining one aspect can be merged in the Divine by diverting the mind towards God. On this day it is possible to get full control over the mind by contemplating on God. Hence it is considered as an auspicious day.

Ceremonial observances include visiting of Shiva temples, bathing the Shiva Lingams with panchamruta( milk, curds, ghee, sugar and honey) (i.e. Abhishek) and offering of trifoliate Bilva leaves. People fast throughout the day and night (Upavaada). All night vigil (Jaagran) is observed by singing bhajans.


The Lingam is a symbol of the Beginningless and Endlessness, and the Infinite,for it has no limbs, no face, no back, and no front; it has no beginning and no end.

Li stands for Leeyate (that in which all names and forms merge) and Gam stands for Gamyate (that towards which all forms and names proceed to attain fulfillment)

Upavaasa means fasting. The literal meaning of the word Upavaasa is living near God ( Upa = near. Vaasa= living). When fasting, it is easier to control the mind and direct it towards God so that is can ‘live near Him’. Living near God’ means that our thoughts, words and deeds must be holy. It is not merely abstaining from food.

Jaagran means watchfulness over thoughts, words and deeds.

Bilwa leaf is a symbol of the three Gunas ( Sathwa, rajas and tamas) man must transcend through Discrimination, Devotion and Detachment.

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