Herath Festival: Know about Maha Shivratri Festival in Jammu and Kashmir

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 24, 2022, 7:47

In India, the Maha Shivratri festival is celebrated with faith and pomp. It commemorates the auspicious union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Shivratri is known as the Herath or Har-Ratri festival in Jammu and Kashmir.

The word Hararatri is derived from the Sanskrit word “Hara” (another name of Lord Shiva) and “Ratri” (night). Together it forms Hararatri (night of Lord Shiva). However, gradually it got transformed into Herath. 

The Kashmiri Pandits celebrate the festival from the 13th night of Phalgun (February-March) till the new moon. As an extension of the ritual, the festival is celebrated for a fortnight. The festival also commemorates Lord Bhairava or Shiva's appearance as Jwala Ling a day before Shivratri. On this auspicious day, Pandits gather in Shiva temples to perform Puja. The Herath festival is extremely important in Hindu values and is celebrated as a significant day for Lord Shiva devotees.

Another legend associated with the festival's origins dates back to the 18th century. Shivratri celebrations were prohibited during this period by the Afghan ruler, Jabbar Khan. He ordered Hindus to celebrate the festival in July when there was no snow. The carving of the Shivalinga was an important part of the festival tradition. It snowed in July, much to everyone's surprise that year. Since then, many people have referred to the celebration as Hairath or the state of shock.

How is the Herath Festival Celebrated?

  • Herath festival celebration starts with the ritual of “Vatuk Pooja” (Steel vessel). The ceremony includes the kalashasthapana after a thorough cleaning of the place. The Kalash is filled with walnuts and is considered to symbolize the four Vedas. It is an important ingredient in the ritual. The priest performs the pooja and is later fed with several delicacies. 
  • The pooja is celebrated by offering and eating meat and fish with rice that is enjoyed by the entire family. It is accompanied by Haaq or green spinach, Mooli Chutney, Dum Aloo, and Paneer. 
  • The next day of Shiva Chaturdashi is celebrated as Salaam. The name “Salaam” signifies the unity of Pandits and Muslims in the valley.
  • The 15th day of the festival is celebrated as Dooni-mavas. On this day, doon or walnuts are distributed among the family. 
  • This Kashmiri festival is celebrated by wishing “Herath Poshte” to all. 

The Kashmiri festival of Herath is celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir with vibrant rituals and traditions. They form a significant part of our cultural heritage and also lead to spiritual upliftment and moral enrichment.

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FAQs about Herath Festival

  • When is the Herath festival celebrated?

Herath festival is celebrated on Phalgun’s 13th night till the new moon. 

  • Where is the Herath festival celebrated?

Herath festival is celebrated in Jammu and Kashmir by the Kashmiri Pandits. 

  • Which God is worshipped during the Herath festival?

Lord Shiva is worshipped during the Herath festival.