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Virtual Maha Shivaratri Celebrations


Maha Shivaratri, the Great Night of Lord Shiva
with Amma’s North American Disciples

Thursday, March 11
5:00 pm PST / 8:00 pm EST - 12:00 am PST / 3:00 am EST

"Shivaratri is a celebration of sacrifice, dispassion and renunciation. Shivaratri teaches us to abandon all other thoughts in contemplation of God and to realize the ultimate purpose of human life. May Divine Grace take us beyond all sense of duality and make us one with the Supreme." -Amma

Spiritual practices done on this sacred night are considered especially beneficial. Satsang Talk, Puja Ceremonies, Group chanting, Devotional Singing and more...

Broadcast at:

Pujas during the program

Br. Ramanandamrita Chaitanya will guide a participatory Shiva puja to be performed at home. For information about items for performing your puja, please see below.

A formal Shiva puja in traditional Kerala style will be performed by Pujarini Meera. Registration is available for a sankalpa (spiritual resolve) to be made during the puja on your behalf, or for a loved one. Click here to register.  

If you have any questions, please contact:


5:00 pm PST/8:00 pm EST

Satsang (Spiritual Talk) by Br. Ramanandamrita Chaitanya

Guided Participatory Shiva Puja by Br. Ramanandamrita Chaitanya, to perform at home

Bhajans by Swami Shantamritananda Puri

7:00 PM PST/ /10:00 PM EST - Amrita Yoga stretching and movement break

7:30 PM PST/10:30 PM EST    - Formal Shiva Puja performed by Pujarini Meera with Bhajans led by Swami Dayamritananda Puri

9:30 PM PST/12:30 AM EST     - Amrita Yoga stretching and movement break

10:00 PM PST/1:00 AM EST   - 1000 names of Lord Shiva
                                                   Ending Bhajans
                                                   Group Chanting: 108 Repetitions of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

12:00 AM PST/3:00 am EST -  Arati & Closing prayers

Suggested items for performing the Guided Participatory Shiva Puja at home

  • A plate with a Shiva linga or Shiva murthi (sacred figure). If you do not have a linga or figure, you may use a flower petal as a symbolic representation.
  • Flower petals or rice grains (preferably mixed with yellow turmeric powder) in a  small bowl for offering during 108 names
  • Water in a small bowl with a spoon to pour on to the figure/flower petal
  • Incense stick
  • Camphor on a plate/spoon lamp for arati
  • A lamp or candle to light
  • Matchbox or lighter
  • Sacred ash powder (if available)
  • Sandalwood and vermillion powder (if available)
  • towel/napkin to wipe hands

Significance of Shivaratri

One popular story from the Indian Mythology about Shivaratri goes like this:

There was once a poor hunter from Varanasi. His name was Suswara. He lived with his wife and child in a small hut. Theirs was a hand-to-mouth existence. Suswara would go to the forest and hunt whatever game came his way and thus feed his family. One particular day, he caught many small animals and birds, which he put into a sack. Encouraged by the catch, he wandered deeper into the forest in search of more game. Soon darkness set in and he turned to go home. He was a little worried as the forest was infested with dangerous animals. He did not like the idea of spending the night there. Soon it became very dark. Unable to find his way back, Suswara climbed a tree to be safe from the wild animals.

Attracted by his scent, animals came lurking under the tree. Hoping to scare them away, Suswara plucked some twigs from the tree and threw them at the animals, but to no avail. Throughout the night the animals kept prowling beneath the tree.

Suswara was unable to get even a wink of sleep. He kept vigil throughout the night. He plucked leaves from the tree, which happened to be a *Bilwa tree, and dropped them on the ground. Unknown to Suswara, there was a *Shivalinga at the foot of the tree; and so, although he was unaware of it, by dropping the sacred Bilwa leaves, Suswara was making a sacred offering to the Shivalinga. That night happened to be Shivaratri. So the hunter had unknowingly kept a night-long vigil and worshipped Shiva.

The story above is an allegory. Just as the hunter sought to kill wild animals, the spiritual seeker tries to overcome lust, anger, greed, infatuation, jealousy and hatred. The jungle is the mind where all these negativities roam about. A spiritual aspirant must kill these “animals” to be free.

The name of the hunter was Suswara, which means “one of melodious voice”. This indicates the purity of intent and speech, which, in turn, imply a level of mental purity.

The hunter was born in Varanasi. Vara refers to the forehead while nasi is the nose. The point where both meets is Varanasi, in other words, the point midway between the eyebrows. This point is also called the Ajna chakra and is regarded as a nexus of the three *Nadis: ida, pingala and sushumna. (There are three principal nadis in the body which go through the spinal cord and the chakras; the energy centers of the body.)

A spiritual aspirant who concentrates his or her mind on this point gains concentration and gradual control over his senses. The killing of the animals thus indicates control over one’s vasanas [latent tendencies].

The Bilwa tree corresponds to the spinal column. The tree’s leaves are special: each stalk has three leaflets. The three leaflets represent the three Nadis mentioned above. The climbing of the tree represents the ascent of the Kundalini shakti from the Muladhara to the Ajna chakra.

Keeping awake is symbolic of the kind of awareness and oneness of purpose that a spiritual aspirant needs to reach the goal. He cannot afford to be slack even for a moment.

Shiva is the Supreme Consciousness that illuminates the three states of waking, dreaming and deep sleep. Offering the threefold Bilwa leaves to the Shivalinga heralds the return to a level of consciousness beyond the three states, which is the fourth state, Turiya. The dawning of that state is consonant with the awakening of the individual.

*Bilwa - Aegle marmelos, commonly known as also Bengal quince, golden apple, Japanese bitter orange, stone apple or wood apple, is a species of tree native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

*Nadis - It is used to describe the channels which allow energy to travel through the body.

*Shivalinga - Stone Image of Lord Shiva