Religious days and festivals are an integral part of every religion. Every religion has a specific day where they celebrate their religion or important event that had happened in their mythology. Some celebrate with ceremonies and rituals while others celebrate with holidays and other similar events. The systems of celebration and methods may be different but there is no denying that religious days hold an important place in religion.
Among the many religions in the world, Hinduism is celebrated by many peoples, more than 2 billion to be exact. Hinduism is popular for its diverse rituals, number of gods, and goddess. Due to the presence of a huge number of gods and goddesses, there is also a huge number of religious days and festivals. Hindus have a huge number of festivals dedicated to various gods and goddesses.
They celebrate all around the year. Dashain, Tihar, Maha Shivaratri, Janai Purnima, Krishna Janmashtami, are some of the major festivals in Hinduism but many other festivals are not as popular as these but hold a special place to the group of people who celebrate them. There are also other festivals that the branch of Hinduism celebrates. Hinduism as a religion is not only rich in culture and deities but is also very rich in festivals and celebrations of religious days.
Maha Shivaratri is one of the major festivals of Hindu devotees. The festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva and people pay their worship to the god. Countries like Nepal and India celebrate Maha Shivaratri with grand gestures. However, as people the Hindu all around the world celebrate this day. This festival is celebrated annually on Chaturdashi Tithi on the Krishna Paksha of the Magh month.
Lord Shiva is one of the trinities of Hinduism and in his honor, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated. Shiva has a great duty in the Universe. As, Brahma is the creator of the universe and Bishnu is the protector of the Universe, the duty of Shiva is to destroy the universe when the universe gets old and unable to create life. He destroys each and everything so that new life can be planted in the place of the old one. At the time of the death of the universe, Lord Shiva performs the Tandav dance that destroys each and everything in the world.
Lord Shiva has many forms and has taken many incarnations in the world. He has taken many forms to destroy the evil and protect his devotee and good people from the actions and deeds of evil peoples and demons. Lord Shiva always protects his devotees and good people. He is also known to be able to be easily pleased among the Hindu deities. Due to this quality of his, he is also known as Bhole Nath.
The appearance of Lord Shiva
Lord Shiva has a different appearance than other gods. Unlike the other gods he does not wear the ornaments of gold and jewelry, nor he wears enchanting, beautiful clothes. Lord Shiva is popular for his unique choice of Jewelry and wear. Lord Shiva wears snake Basuki around his snake as an ornament. He wears the cloth of elephant and tiger skin. Lord Shiva covers his body with ash. Holds trident in one hand and Damaru in his other hand. He has long hair and a very masculine body. His Bahan is Nandi who is an old ox that the lord rides to travel from one place to another.
Lord Shiva is married to Mother Parvati. Mother Parvati is also called Devi Shakti, as she is the primordial mother of each and everything in existence. She is also sometimes called nature and also Devi Shakti as she is the origination of and everything as well as all the energy in the world. Devi Parvati with Lord Shiva has taken many forms to save the world. There are many forms of Devi which she took time to time to free the world from evil. Sometimes she showed the world her fearsome form in the form of kali and slew the demons who terrorized the world. When the world needed love and nurture, she showed the world her feminine and mother side as Devi Parvati and Devi Sati.
Together Devi Parvati and Lord Shiva have children also. The most popular among the children are Lord Ganesh and Lord Kumar, who also have a significant duty to the world. Kumar is the god of war in Hindu mythology whereas Lord Ganesh is the god of beginning whom people worship before beginning any act for good fortune and better luck. The day of Lord Ganesh is Tuesday. People worship him for good luck and wealth. People keep the idol or picture of Lord Ganesh in their surroundings or office for good luck and prosperity.
History of Maha Shivaratri
Maha Shivaratri has been celebrated for thousands of years. Mention of the festival of Maha Shivaratri has been even seen in Puranas like Padma Puran and Skanda Puran. Puran are itself very old and the tradition of the Maha Shivaratri has been even older than that. There are some mythological stories behind the celebration of Maha Shivaratri.
Some people believe that this is the night when Lord Shiva married Mother Parvati. Devi Sati had ended her own life. After this, she reincarnated herself as Devi Parvati as the daughter of Himalaya. However, saddened by the grief of loss Mahadev discarded his duty to the world and started roaming the world aimlessly. After centuries of walking the earth aimlessly, Lord Shiva found out that his beloved wife has reincarnated. Then by fate, they once again got together to be together forever. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated to celebrate their eternal love and the union after much hardship and tragedy.
There is another mythology behind the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. According to this myth, it is the night Lord Shiva performs the Tandav. Tandav is the fearsome dance by which the universe is created, preserved, and destroyed when the time is right. This night when Lord Shiva performs the cosmic dance, the Shiva energy is so high that it can be felt anywhere in the world.
How is Maha Shivaratri celebrated?
There is no specific way that Maha Shivaratri needs to be celebrated. This is the day of great joy and Lord Shiva will be worshipped in many ways and forms. The power of good and truth will get victory over the power of evil and darkness. Different group of people celebrates the festivals in their way. Some people celebrate the day by fasting the entire day and only eating after worshipping Lord Shiva in the evening. People bathe in the morning to make their bodies clean and pure, then they visit the temple of Lord Shiva. It is also believed that people who worship Lord Shiva on this auspicious day get the partner that they desired from the heart.
The main time of the festival is at night time, it is the time when Lord Shiva performs the cosmic dance. The name Maha Shivaratri means the night of Lord Shiva. People spend entire night without sleeping and chanting the prayers to Lord Shiva. As, Shiva is the god of destruction praying for him on this auspicious night also destroys negativity, hardship, and bad situations from life.
In the evening or late evening of Maha Shivaratri people of the localities gather around and make a fire from the woods and chant the prayers to Lord Shiva. In the same fire, they make various foods and consume as the prasad of Lord Shiva. Some people also take a little bit of Marijuana, as it is one of the items that are lived and consumed by Lord Shiva. However, people only take a very minute as an offering to the lord on the night of Maha Shivaratri.
Pashupati Nath is one of the holiest sites of the Hindu peoples. The temple is located at the heart of Kathmandu valley. The main temple is of Lord Shiva while there are many temples in the territory of Pashupati that are dedicated to various gods and goddesses. In the main temple, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the Linga form. The Linga of Pashupati Nath is four-faced and looks in four directions. The Linga that the people see is the cover to the main Linga which no one can see other than the main pujari of the Pashupati.
Beneath the main temple of Pashupati is Aryaghat on which the cremation ceremony of the Hindu people takes place. Just beside there flows the holy river of Bagmati. On the bank of the Bagmati river, the cremation of the body takes place. The Pashupati area is huge and has lots of temples dedicated to various deities. Some temples are dedicated to other incarnations of Lord Shiva. Like there is the temple and idol for Bhirav and Kirat form of Lord Shiva.
Pashupati area is opened all 365 days of the year and devotees go all round the year to pay for their worship. However, on special occasions and festivals, there is a huge number of devotees that visit the temple. The month of Shrawan notably on the Mondays (In Hinduism Monday is regarded as the day of Lord Shiva), Maha Shivaratri, the month of Swastani, are the notable days where the flow of the devotees to the temple are extremely high.
Pashupati Nath and Maha Shivaratri
Pashupati Nath is considered the holiest site for Hindu peoples and the biggest temple of Lord Shiva. It is said that Shiva Linga of Pashupati arose from the ground. It was not placed by anyone there but it originated there and in time temple was made around it. On the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, the holiest temple of Hindus also hosts the biggest celebration of Maha Shivaratri.
The preparation for the occasion of Maha Shivaratri starts from the month before in the Pashupati area and related government organizations. Various Sadhu and Babas from the entire country arrive here. Even a huge number of sages and Babas from India arrive here. Related organizations make arrangements for the living of the sages and Babas in the territory.
A huge number of police and other volunteers are also deployed to maintain order and provide immediate relief in the case of an emergency. Before the day of the Maha Shivaratri, every preparation is made.
The temple and surroundings are covered with beautiful flowers and decorations. People who worship and are the great followers of the Lord also help to make the temple beautiful by aiding to provide flowers and helping with the decorations.
The day of Maha Shivaratri
On the day of Maha Shivaratri early in the morning like at 2 Am or the time designed by the Pashupati organization. Pashupati will notify the time from with time the gates of the temple will be opened by social media and news. From that early people will start to visit the temple. People will come at this time also to visit the temple as in the daytime there will be many peoples at the temple and it will be hard to move around there.
From the early morning, a huge queue will be there of people and with various systems, they will be taken to the main temple. Various lines and rules will be implemented to make the process fast and easy. As time passes the flow of the visitors will keep on increasing. In the mid-day time, the flow will be highest and from that point, the flow will slowly decrease. However, quite a significant amount of number will be present at the end of the day also.
On the occasion of Maha Shivaratri, there will be various programs and activities that will be conducted in the Pashupati area.
Maha Shivaratri at other places
Not just around Pashupati but the festival is celebrated with great joy in all of the Shiva temples and all over Nepal. There are many Shiva temples all around the country, like Doleshor Mahadev, Aashapuri, Gupte Shor Mahadev, Ananta linge shor, and so on. Devotees celebrate at the temple that is close to them.
Maha Shivaratri of year 2078
Maha Shivaratri of the year 2078 will be celebrated on Fagun 17th. By English calendar, the Shivaratri of the year 2021 is already finished and will be celebrated on 2022 March 1.