maha shivratri

Why do we celebrate Mahashivratri: History, Significance, Celebration & Fasting Tips

Maha Shivratri is a celebration of the celestial night. Shivaratri significance is mainly in relation to Lord Shiva, one of the Trimurtis, the Hindu trio of Gods. Shivratri meaning teaches humankind secrets related to spirituality, health, and self-realization. Fasting during Shivratri also adds to the importance of MahaShivratri. 

This post explains why do we celebrate Mahashivratri, how to break Mahashivratri fast, Mahashivratri story with Shivaratri significance.

Why do we celebrate Mahashivratri?

Shivratri assumes importance from various perspectives – mind, body, and soul. Maha Shivaratri story tells it all. Accordingly, there are various reasons to celebrate Mahashivratri:

To celebrate Lord Shiva’s emergence as Linga form: In Vedic philosophy, Shivaratri’s significance is unique. Lord Shiva is more revered as Adiyogi, the first teacher than as a God. It was on the day of Guru Purnima, that Lord Shiva appeared as a teacher to humans and shared his principles. 

Later, he disappeared into the Himalayas and appeared after 84 years only to turn into the permanent Linga form that we worship today. Thus, Shivaratri is considered the night when the Maha Shiva Linga emerged.

To celebrate the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati: Married individuals (grihastha) celebrate Maha Shivaratri as the day of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Shiva-Pravati Kalyanam (marriage) is performed in temples across India and devotees make sure to attend it and seek the blessings of the eternal couple.

To celebrate the cosmic energy of Lord Shiva: According to Hinduism, Lord Shiva is the destructor. He is also a god that devotees can please easily. Lord Shiva is filled with the eternal energy to destroy this universe, and that is reflected in his tandava, the cosmic dance He performs on this day.

To detox the human body and take it closer to the spiritual awakening: Hinduism believes that the ultimate achievement for a human is to attain spiritual enlightenment. Mahashivaratri helps to detox the body and get enlightened in the Lord’s worship.

Another reason behind fasting on Maha Shivratri as per Maha Shivaratri story is to test one’s own willpower and determination. Thus, this auspicious day helps to correct ourselves, strengthen and move towards health and success.

Mahashivratri 2024 will be observed on Friday, March 8, 2024. The Maha Shivratri Nishita Kaal Puja Time will be between 12:07 AM to 12:56 AM, March 09, 2024.

Hindu scriptures mention that by fasting on Maha Shivratri, one can easily attain the blessings of Lord Shiva. It is also said that Lord Shiva loves those who fast and perform abhishekam even with water to the Linga on this day. He blesses them with Moksha, the ultimate liberation for a human soul.

Why do we fast on Maha Shivratri?

By fasting according to regulations, humans can focus on spiritual enlightenment. When one fasts on Maha Shivratri, it helps to detoxify their body, focus on God and realize their true purpose on Earth. 

There are various ways people fast on Maha Shivratri:

By taking only water: 

Also called sajala upavasam, people drink only water throughout the day and night to cleanse their body from within. 

By taking fruits: 

This is allowed for individuals who cannot stay for long on empty stomachs. Individuals consume fruits the whole day in smaller portions and break their fast the next day.

By taking sattvic food: 

Sattvic food is free from spices , soft to eat and does not need chewing. People with medical issues and worshipping Lord Shiva on Mahashivratri can consume Mahashivratri fasting recipes and sattvic food such as khichdi, boiled sweet potatoes, etc.

Significance of mahashivratri 

Shivratri, as per Lunar calendar, occurs 12 times a year. Every chaturdasi, the 14th day of every lunar month, is Shivaratri.

Then what imparts mahashivratri significance?

The shivaratri that occurs in February is the Maha Shivaratri.  The name explains it all. The term Maha shivaratri literally means The Great Night of Lord Shiva. It is the perfect time to celebrate the beauty of nights and realize the power of darkness. 

It helps align humans with spirituality. It is when the Earth’s Northern hemisphere helps humans to receive the maximum cosmic energy. It is also from this day that summer starts to enter in India. 


On this spiritually significant day, the night assumes more importance. People fast the whole day, stay awake in the night and offer prayers to Lord Shiva the whole night. They break the fast the next morning and then consume a light diet. 

Bhajans, worships, abhishek and pujas take place in the temples and at homes at their peak level on Mahashivratri. Devotees perform abhishekam to Shiva Linga with water, cow milk, vibhuti (the holy ash), ghee, rice, coconut water, ghee, honey, panchamrit, etc.

Performing abhishekam with each of these items brings various positive results to the devotees. 

How to break Shivaratri fast?

The process to break Mahashivratri fast and fasting tips are as follows:

  • Throughout the day, consume only water/fruits/ sattvic food as per your medical conditions.
  • Refrain from doing excessive physical work.
  • Avoid eating raw foods. Consume boiled vegetables to gain energy. Drink butter milk, coconut water, lassi with rock salt, etc. to stay hydrated.
  • Spend time in the puja, meditation and reading devotional literature throughout the day.
  • Avoid spicy and pungent foods such as onion, garlic etc. when observing Maha Shivratri fast.
  • Focus your attention on Lord Shiva and read related scriptures when on fast.
  • Recite hymns based on Lord Shiva such as Lingashtakam, Bilvashtakam, Namakam and Chamakam etc. all throughout the day and night to understand Mahashivratri significance.
  • The next day, take a bath, wear fresh clothes and worship Lord Shiva.
  • Break the fast during the parana time and consume moderate food that is offered as naivedyam or bhog to the Great Lord. 

To attain the fullest benefits, remember not to over eat or consume oily, junk and heavy foods after you break the Shivaratri fast. 

Happy Shivaratri

Unlike most other Hindu festivals such as Dasara, Rama Navami, Sankranti, Diwali, Krishnashtami, Holi, etc, Maha Shivratri is unique. It presents humans with the opportunity to embrace the power and essence of night, darkness and realize their true selves. The celebrations are simple yet powerful. 

With a deep message hidden in it, Maha Shivratri is a powerful day to grow spiritually and mentally. Teach the reason and the science behind maha shivaratri story and mahashivaratri significance to your children and everyone and attain the blessings of Har Har Mahadev. Happy Mahashivratri to you all!!