shivaratri

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Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated in reverence of God Shiva

As per Hindu mythology, this day is believed to be the day when Shiva saved the universe by drinking the poison emerged from the churning of the ocean (samudra manthana). 

It is also believed to be the day in which Shiva married Goddess Parvati (Shakti), and the night he performed the Tandav, the cosmic dance.

While most Hindu festivals are celebrated during the day, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated during the night, by keeping a jagaran - a night-long vigil, (as it is believed that Lord Shiva saved the universe from darkness and ignorance). 

The festival is principally celebrated by Shiva lingam pujaofferings of bael leaves to Shiva, as well as water, milk and honey, all-day fasting and an all-night-vigil

All through the day, devotees chant Om Namah Shivaya, the sacred mantra of Shiva. 

NEPAL, Kathmandu - A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) paints coloured paste onto his face during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on March 7, 2016.
Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhu have arrived in Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath to take part in the Maha Shivaratri festival.  / AFP / PRAKASH MATHEMA                        

Mahā Śivarātri (महाशिवरात्रि)

Mahā Śivarātri (Great night of Śiva) is an annual celebration in reverence to Lord Śiva Mahādeva. Celebrated on the 14th day of the waning moon of the 11th month of the Hindu calendar – Māgha Kṛṣṇa Caturdashi (माघ कृष्ण चतुर्दशी). Widely believed to be the day when Lord Śiva got married to Goddess Pārvati.

Other legends associate Mahā Śivarātri with the day Lord Śiva performed the cosmic dance – taṇḍava, the day He appeared on the Earth in the form of the sacred Liṅgam. Several other stories and legends are associated with this day as per the Hindu purāṇas.

People celebrate this day by performing ablutions at dawn, preferably in some sacred river or kuṇḍ and worshipping Lord Śiva in the form of a Śivaliṅga with his favourite bilva leaves. People refrain from eating all day and stay up all night singing devotional hymns in praise of Lord Śiva after breaking their fast.

The Mahā Śivarātri is celebrated with great solemnity in the major Śaivite shrines and temples across India and Nepal.

NEPAL, Kathmandu : A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) paints coloured paste onto his face during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA                        

INDIA, Allahabad : An Indian Hindu devotee demonstrates his fire skills during a religious procession to mark the Hindu festival of Maha Shivratri in Allahabad on February 17, 2015.  . Hindus mark the Maha Shivaratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting to worship Lord Shiva. AFP PHOTO / SANJAY KANOJIA