The only one of its kind, Mahashivratri, meaning “The Great Night of Shiva” is a unique festival of deep spiritual emotion. Shivratri literally means “the Night of Shiva”. It occurs every lunar month on the 13th night of the waning moon, the longest night of the month. However, the Mahashivratri is special because it is the Shivratri that occurs in month of February-March, a period with the most spiritual significance. Though several legendary stories are associated with this festival, scientifically, the northern hemisphere of the planet is positioned in such a way that there is a natural upsurge of energy in a human being on this particular night. This is therefore a day when nature is pushing each individual towards his spiritual peak on the condition that the individual keeps his spine upright throughout the night. The best way to profit from this yearly spiritual opportunity is to stay awake the whole night, keeping the spine vertical at all times.


Varanasi, the abode of Lord Shiva, is no doubt the place to be to celebrate the Mahashivratri. This is because the rhythm of the city will plunge any devotee into his inner spiritual world without any extra effort from their part. The chanting of mantras, the smell of camphor, the majestic aartis at various Ghats, the performance of sitar players, sarod players, table players and discussions on the nuances of various ragas etc. can be found around the city from dawn to dusk. Classical music echoes everywhere. The sarangi, the tabla, the shenai, the tanpura, the sitar, the sarod, the santoor and the flute all form a part of Kashi’s legacy.

A blissful experience which no Hindustani music lover should miss is the Dhrupad Mela held every year during the Mahashivratri celebrations. Started in the year 1975, this Mela aims at preserving the musical tradition of the vocal genre of Dhrupad, the oldest and purest Hindustani style of music. The musicians who participate in this festival consider their performances as a form of vipassana (meditation) done out of love. It is a spiritual dialogue between them and the audience done out of pure generosity for no monetary profit.


While the north of India is filled with music and spirituality, the south of India celebrates this occasion with dance and spirituality. Though the Shiva temples are filled with different activities of the performing arts, Bharathanatyam is the queen of all arts. It is believed that Lord Shiva himself performed this dance in Chidambaram, the birth place of the Nataraja, his aspect of the divine dancer. Lord Shiva called this dance the cosmic dance of creation. A five day program called Natyanjalia tribute to the God of dance – is organized every year by the temple authorities, which attracts dance lovers to this city.

Like in the north of India – whole night vigils, night long pujas, the distribution of prasad etc. is followed in south India. South India though is a much calmer and subtle version as compared to north.

The Mahashivratri is a unique festival worth planning for. It is the synergy of spirituality and music at Kashi.