One of the holiest festivals in Pondicherry, Shiva Ratri is a festival of celebration of convergence of Shakti and Shiva. Known as the great night of Shiva, the mythological significance of Shiva Ratri differs according to different texts. While some God realised Yogis have said Mahashivratri to the be the night when Shiva drank poison to protect the world from negativity, while some texts assert that Shiva Ratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction.
While every state has different rituals for Shiva Ratri, the common thread between them all are the traditions of fasting for Shiva and meditating. According to South Indian calendar, Chaturdashi Tithi (4th day) during Krishna Paksha in the month of Magha is the date of Shiva Ratri celebration.
One day before the fasting day of Shiva Ratri, devotees are supposed to eat only one time. On the day of Shivaratri, after completing the morning prayers and rituals, devotees should take an oath (Sankalp) for a full day fast. During the full day fast, the devotees should take a pledge of self-determination and seek the divine blessings of Lord Shiva to complete the rituals.
On the day of the festival and the fast, the devotee must take a second bath in the evening before starting the evening prayers or before visiting the Shiva temple. The prayers must only be done during the night and the fast must be broken the next day only after taking a bath.
A divine festival, Shiva Ratri in Pondicherry is a blend of cultural extravaganza and holy devotion for Lord Shiva. The entire city is decorated and one could easily sense the divine intervention throughout the city.
The dates for Shivaratri is decided according to the holy Hindu calendar, Panchang. The date for Shivaratri in Pondicherry is decided as per the Chaturdashi Tithi (4th day) during Krishna Paksha in the month of Magha. The date for Shivaratri differs every year, but majorly occurring around the months of February and March.
Special Highlights/Rituals of the Festival
- The festival of Shivaratri is followed by full day fast on the day of the festival. Devotees are expected to eat just one meal before the day of fasting.
- On the day of the festival, after completion of the morning prayers and rituals, devotees should take an oath (Sankalp) for a full day fast.
- After taking a second bath in the evening, proceed with the prayers. The prayers should be offered only in the evening.
- Next day, the fast should be broken after taking a bath in the morning.