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The Chowk

maha shivaratri

Maha Shivaratri : The Night of Lord Shiva

On the fourteenth day of the dark fortnight that occurs in February – March month as per the Hindu Lunar calendar, lies the festival of Maha Shiva Ratri. Maha Shivaratri is one of the most cherished festivals of Nepal celebrated with immense devotion and honour of Lord Shiva. The name of the festival, Maha Shivaratri, literally translates to “The Great Night of Shiva”.

There are many myths surrounding why Shiva Ratri is celebrated. The marriage of Lord Shiva with goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva’s birthday are the most prevailing reasons for this glorified festival. Maha Shivaratri also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the “Tandav Nritya”. It is also believed that on this day, the stars in the Northern Hemisphere align to their perfect positions and are at their highest spiritual energy.

When you think of Shivaratri in Nepal, the Pashupatinath temple is the heart of the festivities. Each year, hundreds and thousands of devotees visit the Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, one of the holiest shrines for Hindus, on Maha Shivaratri from all over Nepal and India. On this day, the Pashupatinath Temple attracts a massive surge of Sadhus (Holy sages) and devotees who come to offer their prayers. The Sadhus (Sage) visiting Pashupatinath temple from all across the country and neighbouring Indian states is one of the great attractions of the Shivaratri festival.

The religious belief is that one will obtain divine blessings if one offers Lord Shiva milk, Dhaturo (a type of intoxicating plant), and ‘Belpatra,’ and fasts all night.

As with any other Nepalese festival, Maha Shivaratri has its unique set of rituals that must be observed. Devotees practice Jagram, staying up all night praying to Lord Shiva. Hindus mark this as a night to overcome darkness and ignorance in one’s life and the world through Shiva. Besides that, a great offering of fruits, leaves and sweets is made to Lord Shiva. It is customary to perform a day-long fast by many devotees and worship lord Shiva with great ardour. The Maha Shivaratri fast starts early in the morning on the day of the festival and lasts till the next morning.

The Shivaratri fast or Shivaratri Vrat is performed, seeking blessings from Lord Shiva. Devotees gather in the Shiva temple around the Shivalinga with their offerings. They pray to Lord Shiva all day and night, and some perform meditative yoga. Many devotees fast for the whole 24 hours. The fast, or Vrat, is at the heart of the celebration, and many people adhere to it faithfully to make their vows and intentions more meaningful.

It is believed that fasting helps detoxify one’s body and purify their mind. By doing so, the individual’s intention becomes clear and strengthens their prayers. Fasting for a whole day may seem bizarre to some people, but the dedicated devotees see no trouble in it. The key to staying hydrated is consuming liquids for the detox, such as milk, yoghurts, or even creamy milkshakes (lassi).

We at The Chowk would like to wish you a very Happy Maha Shivaratri. May Lord Shiva bestow his blessings over you and your family!

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