The Night of Lord Shiva - Maha Shiva Ratri
Maha Shiva Ratri is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus where the Lord Shiva is worshipped. Shivaratri falls on the moonless 14th night of the new moon in the Hindu month of Falgun, which corresponds to the month of March in English Calendar. As Ratri means night, Shiva Ratri is the festival which is celebrated at night. Shiva Ratri is also known as the great night of Shiva. Hindu devotees maintain a "jaagaran", an all-night vigil and prayers, because Hindus mark this night as "overcoming darkness and ignorance" in one's life and the world through Shiva.
There is much significance behind the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. Many legends believe that this was the day that Lord Shiva swallowed poison to save the universe. It is also believed that on this day, Shiva performed the Tandava-a dance which signifies creation, preservation and destruction.
Devotees chant “Om Namah Shivay” and “Mahamritunjaya” all night praying for light over darkness. They wake up early and take a ritual bath, if possible in river Ganga. They wear fresh new clothes and visit the nearest Shiva temple to offer Shiva with milk, honey, water and Fruits and also observe strict fast in honor of Shiva. Hindu temples across the country are decorated with lights and colorful decorations and people can be seen offering night long prayers to Shiva. There is a belief that it is believed that the people who keep fasting on this night and offer prayers to Lord Shiva will get back good luck into their life. Negative energy that surrounds devotees will also be transformed into peaceful energies when one worships the Lord on this day.
Pashupatinath is considered the Guardian and Protector of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal. It lies in the central part of Kathmandu. Many tourists from around the world come to Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus, to celebrate, worship and witness the grand celebration and cordial of Shivaratri, where people burn huge bonfires place to place, and worship Shiva with a huge Aarati. The large number of Shadus can be seen inside and outside of the temple. According to popular belief, worshiping Lord Shiva on this day helps one get rid of all the sins.