Śivarātri or the night specifically chosen for the worship of Śiva is based on the soli-lunar calendar. Another name for this night is called narka caturdaśī symbolically referring to the night of death when the soul is dragged to नर्क narka by Yama. Narka refers to paṭala and other nether worlds where there is no light – hence the name न (na) meaning ‘no’ and अर्क (arka) meaning ‘sun’. Souls are dragged to narka because they wasted their lives fulfilling their crass desires and in the process committed so many sins. These desires are collectively called ‘kāma’ which are generated from ‘icchā’ and symbolised by the asura guru Śukra. In the negative, we spend our lives fulfilling these desires which are created one after another from the wrong directions of the senses (indriya) and these directions lead to narka. By worshipping Śiva, we are able to burn the sins just as the third eye of Mahādeva burnt Kāma and in the process are saved from the dreadful experience of narka. In the process the day becomes the auspicious śivarātri.
To overcome premature death and the terrible crossing over to narka, which results from a life without prayers and good karma, Mārkaṇḍeya worshipped Śiva and so also so many others have done so.
The date for the māsa (monthly) Śivarātri is based on the local midnight hour called niśita kāla which extends for a muhurta (two ghāṭikā or 48 minutes).
The moment of local midnight should contain the Kṛṣṇa Pakṣa Caturdaśī tithi i.e. the fourteenth day in the dark fortnight of the lunar month when reckoned from the end of the full moon (pūrṇānta pañcāṅga) which is also the twenty-ninth day after the new moon (amānta pañcāṅga).
As every lunar month has a kṛṣṇa caturdaśī, there will be twelve śivarātri in a year, and sometimes, thirteen when the year has an additional month. While most pañcāṅga ignore this as being inauspicious and unclean, being kṣaya māsa, it then becomes even more important to cleanse ourselves by remembering Lord Śiva on this most unclean kṣaya māsa.
The śivarātri on every month is called ‘māsa śivarātri’.
Among the māsa śivarātri, the one that falls in the month of Magha according to the amānta pañcāṅga (new moon calendar) or the month of Phālguṇa according to the pūrṇānta pañcāṅga (full moon calendar) is called Mahā Śivarātri. These dates are almost always exactly the same unless there is an adhika māsa or the rare kṣaya māsa that can cause a discrepancy between the two pañcāṅga as well as regional pañcāṅga based on the manner in which they deal with adhika and kṣaya māsa. As mentioned previously, an adhika or kṣaya māsa indicates a period when the sins can be completely washed away and is most auspicious for Śivarātri. Only astrologers need to study these complicated calculations of Adhika and Kṣaya Māsa.
The Mahā Śivarātri is normally around February-March every year.
You can add the lunar calendar of Moon phases to your Google Calendar and whenever it shows a new moon (black circle), Śivarātri is likely to be a day or two before this. Check the exact dates given below for India. Add Google Calendar
You can also download a jyotiṣa software to calculate this for every month
- Śivarātri Calendar 2016-17 - No Date Day Śivarātri 1 07 Mar 2016 Monday Mahā 2 05 Apr 2016 Tuesday Māsa 3 05 May 2016 Thursday Māsa 4 03 Jun 2016 Friday Māsa 5 02 Jul 2016 Saturday Māsa 6 01 Aug 2016 Monday Māsa 7 30 Aug 2016 Tuesday Māsa 8 29 Sep 2016 Thursday Māsa 9 28 Oct […]
- Śivarātri Calendar 2015-16 - No Date Day Śivarātri 1 17 Feb 2015 Tuesday Mahā 2 18 Mar 2015 Wednesday Māsa 3 17 Apr 2015 Friday Māsa 4 16 May 2015 Saturday Māsa 5 14 Jun 2015 Sunday Māsa 6 14 Jul 2015 Tuesday Māsa 7 12 Aug 2015 Wednesday Māsa 8 11 Sep 2015 Friday Māsa 9 11 Oct […]
- Śivarātri Calendar 2014-15 - No Date Day Śivarātri 1 27 Feb 2014 Thursday Mahā 2 29 Mar 2014 Saturday Māsa 3 27 Apr 2014 Sunday Māsa 4 26 May 2014 Monday Māsa 5 25 Jun 2014 Wednesday Māsa 6 25 Jul 2014 Friday Māsa 7 23 Aug 2014 Saturday Māsa 8 22 Sep 2014 Monday Māsa 9 22 Oct […]