Introduction: Maha Shivaratri is an annual Hindu festival, is devoted to Hindu God Shiva. Maha Shivaratri (also shivarathri) means ‘Great Night of Shiva’. It is observed by the devotees of Lord Shiva. They dedicate this day to worship and pay regard to Lord Shiva.
Significance: The wedding of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati took place on this day. Hence, this day is considered auspicious to worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Month: The fourteenth day (or Chaturdashi) of dark lunar fortnight (Krishna Paksha) during the Hindu Magha month is celebrated as Maha Shivaratri. This festival typically falls within the month of February or March.
Mythology: The festival is additional related to the legend of Samudra Manthan (churning of the sea). Lord Shiva is believed to have saved the entire universe by consuming the poison. The poison was restricted in his throat and it turned blue. Therefore, Lord Shiva is also referred to as “NeelKantha”.
Rituals and celebration: It is one amongst the popular festivals celebrated in India. The festival is celebrated on a grand scale. Thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva go to the Shiva Temples in groups. They offer a ceremonial bath to Lord Shiva.
The Shiva Lingam is worshipped. The Shiva Linga is bathed with water (also ganga water), milk, honey, curd, rose water, etc. Leaves, fruits and sweets are also offered to Lord Shiva.
Many devotees fast on this day and chant various mantras and songs to please Lord Shiva. Many devotees worship throughout the night. The twelve Jyotirlinga temples of Lord Shiva are considered most sacred to worship Lord Shiva.