By Sanabhi Gupta

Maha Shivratri (the great night of Shiva) is a festival that is usually celebrated by the Hindus annually. It is famous amongst the Hindus because the festival is devoted to the god of God, Lord Shiva. The name ‘Shivaratri’ also refers to the night when Shiva performs the cosmic dance called Tandava. The devotees of Lord Shiva celebrate this festival to get freedom from past sins or bad karma, and married women pray for the well-being of their husbands on this day. In contrast, unmarried women pray for a husband like Shiva who is considered as the ideal kind of husband. For this year 2078, it was celebrated on 27 Falgun B.S. according to the Nepalese calendar. 

On this auspicious day, devotees visit temples early in the morning to carry out their rituals. At the temple, the devotees perform traditional rituals with flowers, sweets and candles. They chant ‘Om namah shivay’ which means to understand and take out time for your inner-self. The sweets are later distributed to people and other devotees. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated by worshiping Lord Shiva through various ways– like fasting, keeping vigil, doing pujas at home and temple, meditating, and following ethical virtues such as honesty, non-injury to others, charity, and forgiveness. Holy rituals are performed all over the nation by devotees who take a holy dip in the river Ganga during the day of the festival. Curd, honey, and other fabulous items are offered to Lord Shiva on Maha Shivratri, whereas milk, water, and fruits are provided to shivling. There are many legends surrounding this tradition, but the most believed one says; it marks the celebration of the union of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. According to mythology, Lord Shiva tied the wedding knot with goddess Parvati on this day. 

The festival is celebrated in different temples devoted to Lord Shiva across the country, but the atmosphere in the Pashupati temple is usually different from others because it is known as the biggest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. At this temple, devotees of Lord Shiva come from other parts of the country and the world to worship him, and visit the famous Shiva Shakti Pratham nearby. A national holiday is usually declared all over the country to enable worshipers carry out their rituals and celebration on this day. Maha Shivaratri is further honored as Nepali’s Army Day with a spectacular ceremony held at the Army Pavilion, Tudikhel. The festival signifies a tradition and culture that has been preserved for centuries by devotees all over the world.