One night of each year in the Indian calendar is dedicated to worship of Lord Shiva. This holiday is known as Maha Shivaratri – the great night of Shiva.
This is done on the 14th night of the waning Moon in the Indian lunar calendar in the month of Maagha. Typically, in Vedic astrology, the phase of the Moon is calculated at sunrise in a location. However, for this lunar holiday, astrologers look at where the Moon is at midnight. The phase or tithi of the Moon on Shivaratri is known as chaturdashi in Vedic astrology.
In the Vedic tradition, there is a trinity of the major GODs.
Lord Brahma is the Governor
Lord Vishnu is the Operator
Lord Shiva is the Destroyer.
Shiva removes that which has outlived its usefulness and then allows us to start anew. He can remove our limitations, negativites and false beliefs. Shiva has many names: Nataraj, Mahadeva, Mahesh, Rudra, Ugra, Ardra, Maheshwara, Shambho, Shankara, and the list goes on. Each name describes a specific quality of the lord’s multi-faceted being. Shiva is “Mahadeva” – the great lord.
On this auspicious and sacred night, it is said that one repetition of the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” is magnified 1,000 times. It is customary people to gather and stay up all night chanting the sacred mantra. People typically fast on this day or refrain from eating grains. White clothing is traditionally worn on Shivaratri.
This phase of the Moon continues until approximately 2 PM Pacific time on Monday in the U.S.
As we chant “Om Namah Shivaya” (I honor Shiva – the supreme being who resides in each of us), we can connect once again to our own innate divinity and acknowledge that there are multiple facets to our own great being. We can also recognize the divinity that exists in each of us and honor that time and again.