Maha Shivaratri – Puja Timings:
First Kala Puja – 6:30 ttoo 9.30 pm
Second Kala Puja – 9:30 12.30 pm
Third Kala Puja – 12:30 to 03.30 am
Forth Kala Puja – 3:30 to 6:30 am
Shivaratri is one of the most auspicious Vratas for the devotees of Lord shiva. The Puranas explain the grand significance of this Vrata. Especially Skandha Maha Purana has the details of the way to observe the Vrata.
Maha Shivaratri History:
Once when everything in all the worlds got reduced into Lord shiva, in that darkness of nothing present, the mother Parvati worshipped Lord shiva in the Agamic way with great devotion. The Parameshwar pleased by her prayer blessed her. She asked for the benefit of all the creatures that in the future whoever worships the Lord on the shiva Ratri day with devotion, should be blessed and should be given the ultimate liberation. The Pashupati granted that showing way for all of us to get blessed easily.
When Lord Brahma and Sri Vishnu fought between themselves as “who is the greatest”, Lord Shiva appeared before them as a pillar of fire. They were not able to find the starting and end of that pillar. This day is Thirukkaarthikai .
Then Lord Brahma and Sri Maha Vishnu repented for their mistake and prayed to Lord Shiva for forgiving their sin worshiping the shiva lingam which is the form of the flame. In the night of Shivaratri Lord Shiva appeared before them and blessed them. Devotees pray the God throughout the night of Shivaratri by performing Abisheka, chanting and other holy deeds.
Every month in Krishna paksha Chaturdashi (fourteenth moon day) is called masa Shivaratri. The one that comes in the month of “Masi” (mid-February to mid-March) is called Maha Shivaratri. This is considered the most important Vrata by the devotees.
There are many incidents told about the greatness of this day. Once a hunter in a jungle after searching throughout the jungle was quite tired and could not get any animal. At nightfall a tiger started chasing him. to escape from that he climbed a tree. That was a Bilva tree. The tiger sat under the tree waiting for him to come down. The hunter who sat on a branch of the tree was quite tense and didn’t want to sleep. He was plucking the leaves and putting them down as he was not able to be idle. Below the tree, there was a Shiva lingam. The whole night went on like this. God was pleased with the Upavasa (hunger) and the Pooja the hunter and the tiger did even without knowledge. He is the peak of grace. He gave the hunter and the tiger “Moksha”.
In a Shiva temple on a Maha Shivaratri day, the lamp kept in the altar was very dim. That time a mouse which came to take its prey touched the flame. Due to the heat, it moved its head immediately. In the process, it kindled the lamp and the altar was illuminated well. Lord Shiva, pleased by this deed made the mouse Mahabali, the renowned asura king.
There are many incidents like this told in our Puranas. If we do the Vrata with pure devotion and love there can be no doubt about getting the Grace of the Almighty.
When is Shivaratri Observed:
Skandha Purana describes four Shivaratris. The first one is Nitya Shivaratri (daily Shivaratri – every night). The second one is the Masa Shivaratri which is observed on the Krishna paxa Chaturdashi (fourteenth moon day on the moon’s diminishing phase). The third one is the Maga prathamAdi Shivaratri which is observed for the thirteen days starting from Prathama titi in the month Maga (Masi) and on the Chaturdashi night, the Lord is worshiped throughout the night.
The fourth one is observed on the Masi (Maga) month Krishna paxa Chaturdasi. This is the one observed in a widespread manner. It is also called mahA shivarAtri.
Ho to Observing Shivaratri:
Getting up early in the morning one meditates on the Infinitely Auspicious, ornated with thousands of splendid garlands, Who is in the form of the holy symbol of shiva(maha lingam). Bathing and staying clean the worship of Lord Shiva in the form of shiva lingam is done in the four jamas of the night (four equal time intervals of the night). (Note that the linga worship is explicitly mentioned for this Vratam as this is the time the God out of Its grace for the benefit of pashus appeared in a formless-form that is a symbol (lingam) from Its true nature of formlessness.)