Mahashivratri 2024: Guide to celebrating this Hindu festival abroad

06 Mar 2024
7 mins read
Written by Riona lye

Fascinated by Mahashivratri? This auspicious occasion holds immense significance in Hindu culture, steeped in spirituality and age-old traditions. Mahashivratri is an annual celebration dedicated to honouring Lord Shiva, the cosmic dancer and the one who vanquishes evil.


As followers all over the world gear up to honour Shiva’s divine existence, it’s crucial to grasp what Mahashivratri truly means, especially if you’re celebrating it far from home. Regardless of where you are in the world, Mahashivratri presents a special chance for people to connect with their spiritual side, uphold traditions, and foster a sense of community.


So, let’s delve into the heart of Mahashivratri and figure out how to celebrate this blessed event while living away from your homeland.

What is Mahashivratri?

Mahashivratri, an annual Hindu festival devoted to Lord Shiva, holds a unique distinction. While many Hindu festivals usually celebrated during the day, Mahashivratri stands out as a night-long celebration, adding to its mystique and allure.

Why is Mahashivratri celebrated?

This special day holds multiple intriguing stories behind its celebration. Let’s dive into a few of them together:


Picture this: A hunter, unable to find any food in the forest, perched on a branch of a Woodapple tree. In an attempt to lure deer, he tossed leaves onto the ground. To his surprise, he uncovered a Shiva Lingam hidden beneath the tree! Lord Shiva, pleased with the hunter’s patience and accidental offering of Woodapple leaves, appeared before him and blessed him with wisdom. Touched by this encounter, the hunter resolved to abstain from eating meat from that day forward.


Here’s another fascinating tale: Once, the world stood on the brink of destruction. Goddess Parvati, not wanting to witness such devastation, earnestly pleaded with Lord Shiva to save it. Touched by her heartfelt prayers, Lord Shiva agreed to spare the world, but on one condition: people must worship him with genuine devotion. And so, Mahashivratri emerged, with people happily gathering to worship Shiva with all their hearts.


Another legend ties Shivratri to Lord Shiva’s marriage to Parvati and his heroic act of drinking poison during the churning of the ocean by gods and demons. To honour Shiva’s sacrifice, Shivratri is celebrated as a sacred union and a day of his kindness towards humanity.


And then there’s the captivating story of Lord Shiva’s act of catching the falling Goddess Ganga in his hair, allowing her to flow as multiple streams to avert destruction on Earth. In tribute, the Shivalinga is bathed on this blessed night.


The last legend relates to Shiva’s Lingodbhava Murti which appeared at midnight. As per this legend, Vishnu and Brahma engage in a debate about who’s greater. Suddenly, Shiva appears as a radiant pillar of light, challenging them to find its origin. Brahma transforms into a swan, soaring towards the heavens, while Vishnu assumes the guise of Varaha, a mighty boar, to explore the depths below. But despite their efforts, neither Brahma nor Vishnu can find the source of the light. To worship this form of the Lord Shiva, people stay up all night, praying and celebrating Shivratri.

When is Mahashivratri?

It changes annually since it follows the Hindu calendar. Mahashivratri is typically celebrated on the 14th day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Phalguna. So, when you convert it to the Gregorian calendar, the date shifts every year. Generally, though, you can expect it somewhere between February and March.

When is Mahashivratri in 2024?

In 2024, Mahashivratri is expected to be celebrated on March 8th, although some sources suggest it might fall on March 9th, 2024. Keep an eye on local announcements or check with a reliable Hindu calendar to confirm the exact date for the celebration.

How to celebrate Mahashivratri?

So, you’re wondering how to celebrate Mahashivratri? Let me share a few ideas on how you can make this special day even more memorable:


  • Fast and Feast: Many people choose to fast for the day, eating very little or sticking to just water and fruits until it’s time to break their fast.
  • Take Some ‘Me’ Time: Take some time to meditate, chant (known as ‘Japa’), or simply reflect on the marvels of Lord Shiva. And if you’re eager to explore further, why not immerse yourself in the teachings of the Shiva Purana?
  • Show Some Love to the Shivalinga: You can also participate in the worship of the Shivalinga by giving it a ceremonial bath and offering bel leaves from the woodapple (bel) tree, which are integral to the traditional rituals.
  • Join the Community: Head over to your local ashram or temple and join in the communal prayers. It’s a great way to connect with others and immerse yourself in the devotional atmosphere.


These simple yet meaningful activities can add that extra sparkle to your Mahashivratri celebration.

How to do Mahashivratri puja?

So, if you’re planning to do a Mahashivratri puja, India Times lays out a pretty clear guide.


  1. First things first – you have got to cleanse yourself. Take a nice bath, wear clean clothes and tidy up the space where you’ll be performing the puja.
  2. Next, let’s prepare your puja space. Gather an idol or image of Lord Shiva along with a Shiv Linga or Shiv Yantra. Arrange them on a pedestal or platform, and decorate the space with flowers.
  3. Afterward, it’s time to present your offerings. These can include fruits, honey, milk, or anything traditionally associated with Lord Shiva’s preferences. For an added touch of auspiciousness, consider offering bel leaves as well.
  4. It’s time for mantras now. You can chant powerful mantras like ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ or the ‘Mahamrityunjaya Mantra’, or recite sacred texts like the Shiva Chalisa.
  5. Next comes the Abhishek. While chanting your prayers, pour offerings such as milk, honey, or water over the Shiv Linga.
  6. Finally, conclude the puja with the aarti ritual. Light a lamp and wave it before the deity, expressing reverence and gratitude.

Spending Mahashivratri abroad?

If you’re celebrating Mahashivratri away from home? No problem at all! You can totally capture the essence of the festival, no matter where you are. Remember, Mahashivratri is all about conquering the darkness and ignorance both within ourselves and in the world around us.


Whether you’re remembering Shiva, chanting prayers, fasting, or meditating on virtues like honesty, kindness, generosity, and forgiveness, what truly matters is the sincerity of your intention.


So, no matter where in the world you find yourself, dive deep into the spirit of Mahashivratri and make it a meaningful day for you.

Is Mahashivratri a bank holiday?

So, you’re wondering if Mahashivratri is a bank holiday? Well, it’s not such an odd question particularly if you’re living overseas and can’t celebrate Mahashivratri with your family back home. I bet the first thing on your mind is wanting to do something nice for them, like sending money their way.


But here’s the thing, it actually is a bank holiday. So, if you’re planning to transfer funds, it’s a good idea to get it done ahead of time. Just a little heads-up so you don’t run into any hiccups!

Before you go…

As the festive season approaches in India, do you find yourself stuck abroad, unable to return home?


No need to stress – Instarem has got your back! Instarem allows you to send money to India at competitive exchange rates. Whether you’re in another state or a different country, you can easily and securely transfer funds to your family and friends whenever you need.


Your thoughtful gesture of sending money will surely be appreciated by your loved ones as they celebrate these special occasions together.


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Try Instarem for your next transfer by downloading the app or sign up here. to send your warm wishes for a happy festive season!


*Disclaimer: This article is intended for informational purposes only. All details are accurate at the time of publishing. Instarem has no affiliation or relationship with products.

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