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Maha Shivaratri is one of the most important and celebrated festivals by Hindus in Nepal and India to honor Lord Shiva. There are many ways the Hindus commemorate the festival, as well as legends about the origin of the festival. One of the famous stories is that it is the night when Lord Shiva performs his heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction.
See the fact file below for more information on the Maha Shivaratri or alternatively, you can download our 24-page Maha Shivaratri worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Maha Shivaratri means “The Great Night of Shiva”. Although there is a Shivaratri every 14th day of the month in the Lunar calendar, the main celebration happens before summer.
- It lasts for three to ten days, depending on the Hindu lunisolar calendar.
- The month it is celebrated is called Phalguna, the twelfth month of the year in the Hindu Calendar, which falls in February/March in the Gregorian Calendar.
- Lord Shiva is one of Hinduism’s principal deities and the Supreme Being in Shaivism, one of Hinduism’s major traditions.
- He is also a part of the Hindu Triumvirate that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In the tradition of Shaivite, Lord Shiva is the Supreme Lord who creates, protects, and transforms the universe.
- Lord Shiva has many names that describe him. He is called Shambhu, meaning “Benign”; Shankara, which means “Beneficient”; Mahesha, or “Great Lord”; and Mahadeva, which also means “Great God”.
- Lord Shiva is represented in different forms. He also takes the form as an Adiyogi, a “Dalit” accompanied by a dog, a naked ascetic, and Ardhanarishvara, an androgynous union of himself and his consort in one body.
- Lord Shiva is known as Swayambhu, meaning he created himself and was not born. Legends say that Shiva was there from time immemorial and will still be present even when everything ceases to exist.
- The Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event that includes fasting, a meditation on Shiva, self-study, social harmony, and an all-night vigil at Shiva’s temples.
- Some regions celebrate it in the morning, while other devotees maintain a Jagran (an all-night vigil) and prayers. For them, the night means “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in their life and the world through Shiva.
- They also observe a full day of fasting. They believe this is one way to attain Lord Shiva’s blessing. It is also a test of their determination. They will only eat after bathing the next day.
- Lord Shiva’s devotees who live near the Ganges River take a customary spiritual bath in the river. They believe that the Ganges River will cleanse their sins and bring salvation.
- Fruits, leaves, sweets, and milk are also offered to the shiva linga, a religious symbol representing Lord Shiva. They perform Abhishek, the process of washing and cleaning the sacred idols by showering them with milk and water.
- The sacred mantra of Shiva, “Om Namah Shivaya”, is chanted all day. They also recite Shiv Chalisa, an ode, eulogy, or a hymn of praise dedicated to Shiva.
- There are several famous legends about the origin of Maha Shivaratri.
- One story was part of the Bhagavata Purana, which tells how Lord Shiva saved the world by drinking and holding the poison in his throat that emerged during the Samudra Manthan. The story also explains why Lord Shiva’s throat was blue. For some Hindus, Maha Shivaratri is considered a thanksgiving celebration because of this story.
- According to another legend, Maha Shivaratri originated when Brahma and Vishnu fought about their supremacy over the other. Lord Shiva decided to intervene by taking a massive fire column that expanded across the universe.
- Seeing the fire’s magnitude, Brahma and Vishnu agreed to race and find the fire’s end and finally establish superiority over the other. Brahma flew upwards to the sky and Vishnu towards the depths of the Earth.
- When Brahma came across a Ketaki flower, he asked where t came from. The flower told him that she was placed at the top of the fiery column as an offering. Brahma could not find the fiery column’s end, so he took the flower to deceive Vishnu by claiming that he won the race.
- However, Lord Shiva revealed his true form and called out Brahma’s lies. He cursed Brahma, stating that no one will ever pray to him.
- Maha Shivaratri is also celebrated as the wedding anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It is believed that when Sati died, Lord Shiva went into deep meditation. Sati then reincarnated as Parvati. The union of Lord Shiva and Parvati took place on the 14th day of the dark fortnight during the Phalguna.
- Lord Shiva is considered a great husband, and one of the prayers by women during the festival was to bless them with a good husband like him.
- There is also a story where Parvati pleaded with her husband to save the Earth from destruction. Lord Shiva agreed but on the condition that the people would have to worship him with dedication.
- The night Lord Shiva saved the Earth came to be known as Maha Shivaratri. The blooming of the flowers the day after this hints at the fertility of the Earth.
- Lord Shiva’s devotees pray during this special day to bless them with benevolence and prosperity because they consider Shiva the most powerful god.
- Maha Shivaratri also happens when the constellations are in a favorable position, which is the best time for meditation. The spiritual seekers consider Maha Shivaratri as their New Year because it is an auspicious day for spiritual growth. Additionally, meditation during this time awakens the divinity within a person.
- It is also believed that the Shiva mantras can protect people from diseases, fears, etc. It makes people strong on the inside to fight inner and physical battles. Moreover, it cleanses the body from any form of negativity and makes one feel energized.
Maha Shivaratri Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Maha Shivaratri across 24 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Maha Shivaratri worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Maha Shivaratri which is one of the most important and celebrated festivals by Hindus in Nepal and India to honor Lord Shiva. There are many ways the Hindus commemorate the festival, as well as legends about the origin of the festival. One of the famous stories is that it is the night when Lord Shiva performs his heavenly dance of creation, preservation, and destruction.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Maha Shivaratri Facts
- Lord Shiva
- The Other Gods
- Forms and Names
- Honoring Shiva
- The Great Night of Shiva
- History of Maha Shivaratri
- Fact or Bluff
- Your Local Festival
- Celebrating Lord Shiva
- Analysis of a Celebration
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.