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Shivratri 2024 Importance - Puja - Complete Guide on Maha Shivaratri in 2024

Maha Shivratri is the most auspicious day dedicated to Lord Shiva and is popularly known as the night of Siva. Shivratri 2024 date is March 8, Friday as per panchangs in India. In Panchangs and Hindu calendars followed in Mauritius, United States, United Kingdom (Britain) and Canada, Shivaratri is marked on March 8. It is marked on March 8 in Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand. This holy night of Shiva is observed on the night before ‘amavasya’ in the Hindu month of Phalgun (February – March) as per traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India. The corresponding period in other regions is the night before Magh Amavasya.

Shivratri 2024 Date Puja Tithi and Timings

The best time to perform puja is from 12:13 AM on March 5 to 1:02 AM on March 5 early hours midnight.

Nishita Kala is chosen to perform pujas and rituals on Shivratri. 

All pujas and rituals are completed before Amavasya (No moon) starts.

Nishita Kala Puja time is 12:13 AM on March 5 to 1:02 AM on March 5 

Chaturdashi tithi in North, South and Eastern parts of India is from 9:58 PM on March 4 to 6:18 PM on March 5.

Chaturdashi tithi in Western parts of India is from 9:58 PM on March 4 to 6:18 PM on March 5.

It must be noted here that Shivratri is observed during Phalgun month in North India. The corresponding month in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is Magh Month.

Significance of Shivratri

Most Hindu festivals are noted for its mirth and color but Shivratri is a night dedicated to prayers and contemplation. Of course, when Lord Shiva is worshipped there is joy all around but it is not just joy but bliss that is achieved through Brahman realization – When Lord Shiva is seen in all animate and inanimate.

When we realize that it is his Tandava that creates each cell and it is his Tandava that is responsible for the transformation of each cell – we attain Moksha.

The significance of Shivratri is closely associated with ‘amavas’ - the no moon night or full dark night as per traditional Hindu Calendar. Amavas symbolically represents Kaliyuga or spiritual ignorance. Lord Shiva appeared just before the beginning of Kaliyuga to rid the world of evil and ignorance. Therefore Shivratri is celebrated to get rid of evil and ignorance.

On the Shivratri day, Lord Shiva is worshipped in a special form of Linga called ‘Lingodbhavamurti.’ It is a lingam in the form of fire which has neither a beginning nor an end. It must be noted here that ‘linga’ means ‘sign.’ And it is merely an attempt to capture the formless or Brahman.

Shivratri Story and Origin

There are numerous legends and myths associated with Shivratri, which is mainly found the Puranas associated with Shiva.

An important myth is that Shivaratri is the birthday of Lord Shiva – this is because the formless Lord Shiva appeared for the first time in the form of Lingodbhavamurti or Jyotirlinga before Lord Vishnu and Brahma.

Myth of Shivratri based on Vishnu and Brahma searching for the origin of Linga

Lord Vishnu and Brahma wanted to know who was superior and this led to a fight. Lord Shiva intervened and said whoever can find out the origin or end of Shivling is superior. Lord Shiva appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord Vishnu went down searching and Brahma went up searching. Both traveled and traveled but never met the beginning or end.
After the futile search, Lord Vishnu and Brahma prayed to Shiva and appeared before them in the form of Jyotirlinga and this day of the appearance of Lord Shiva is celebrated as Shivratri.

The Story of Shivratri based on Samudra Manthan

This is a famous legend on Shivaratri and happened during the churning of ocean by Devas and Asuras to get ‘Amrit.’ While churning the ocean, highly toxic poison came out and Lord Vishnu asked the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ to approach Lord Shiva. He agreed immediately to help them and drank the poison. In order the poison to have no effect, Lord Shiva should not sleep. So the ‘devas’ and ‘asuras’ kept praying the whole night. Pleased with the devotion Lord Shiva said ‘whoever worships me on this day will get their wishes fulfilled.’

Maha Shivratri and the fall of ketaki flower

This myth is similar to the appearance of the Jyotirlinga legend. Brahma went up searching for the end of the Jyotirlinga and Vishnu went down. Brahma after traveling for a while saw a ketaki flower (screw pine) dangling down. He stopped his search and took the flower and returned to Lord Shiva. Vishnu too came back soon and expressed his inability to find the beginning. But Brahma said he found the ketaki flower atop the Jyotirlinga and ketki supported it. Lord Shiva became furious and cursed ketaki flower that it will not be offered in worship.

The story of Shivratri based on hunter unknowingly dropping Bilva leaves on Lingam

There once lived a tribal hunter who was a Shiva devotee. One day he lost his way while hunting and was trapped in the forest at night. Soon wild animals started to gather around him and he climbed a Bel or Bilva tree. In order to keep himself awake, he started plucking Bilva leaves and dropped it down repeating ‘Om Namah Shivaya.’ In the morning, he discovered that he had been dropping the leaves on a Shivling. And the word spread that he was saved by Lord Shiva. People started celebrating the day as Shivratri. The story is mentioned in Mahabharata by Bhishma while on the bed of arrows. The hunter was born as King Chitra bhanu who could remember his previous births. And he discussed the importance of Shivaratri with a sage.

Shivratri Puja and Fasting

Shivratri puja and fasting begins with the sunrise on the Chaturdashi day.

It is a complete fast on the day and people keep vigil at night or spend time in Shiva Temples or at sacred spots associated with Lord Siva.

At home, one should keep chanting the mantra 'Om Namah Shivaya.' If you have a Shivling you can offer water to it.

Shiva is worshipped on the day with bilva leaves, datura, flowers, rice, water, milk, and panchamrut (milk, curd, ghee, sugar and honey). Lord Shiva is worshipped throughout the night.

The main puja is held at midnight.

The next day morning a sacrifice is performed with barley, sesame, porridge, bilva leaves and the fasting is completed. This is performed at temples and in sacred places.

At homes, people offer bilva leaves and water to Lord Shiva and end the vow with prayers.

Food That Can Be Eaten During Shivratri Fasting

Food Eaten on the Shivratri Day
  • Most devotees go for a fruit diet and drink lots of water.
  • Since it is a long fasting many people consume a special meal known as ‘phalar.’
  • Some people consume a mid-day meal consisting of non-cereal food such as boiled potatoes which is made into a curry without onion, garlic, adarak or haldi. 
  • Another food eaten on the day is pakora or Kuttu Singhare ki puri.
  • No meal is eaten after sunset.
  • Next meal is taken on the morning of Amavasya (next day morning) after doing puja and giving alms.

Mantras to be Chanted on Shivratri

Some of the important mantras that are chanted on the day include: 
  • Shiva Panchakshari Mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) 
  • Chanting the sacred names of Lord Shiva
  • Mahamrityunjaya Mantra etc. 
  • People also listen to Lingashtakam and Bilvashtakam.

Planetary Position on Shivratri Night

It is believed that the planetary positions align in such a way on Shivratri night that it naturally creates an upsurge of energy in the human system. This is also why traditionally it is known to be beneficial both physically and spiritually to stay awake and aware through the night.

Benefits of Observing Shivaratri

All the rituals on the night of Shivaratri are meant to cleanse the ignorance and realize that all animate and inanimate is nothing but the Supreme Truth Shiva.

The fasting, rituals and chanting are meant to kill desire, greed, illusion, arrogance, jealousy, and anger.

This will make you a better person and prepare you to face the challenges.

Shivratri in All Months of a Hindu Year

Incidentally, there is a Shivratri in each month of the Hindu calendar. This is known as Masa Shivratri and is observed by staunch Shiva devotees. It is observed on the fourteenth day during the waning phase of moon or Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi in all traditional Hindu months.

Another important Shivratri in the year is during Shravan month (July - August). This is part of the Masa (or monthly) Shivratri observed by staunch Shiva devotees.

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