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, MahaShivaratri 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 puja, offerings 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 (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
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.
Children dressed as Shiva
Bhopal, India: Children dressed as the Hindu god Shiva take part in a fancy dress show on the eve of the Maha Shivaratri festival, which is celebrated with great devotion by Hindus with prayers and ritual bathing of Shivalingams [Sanjeev Gupta/EPA]
(via the gardian)
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