Maha Shivaratri Festival Marriage of Shiva and Parvati
Maha Shivaratri is the festival celebrated during the Hindu lunar month of Phalguna annually in honor of god Shiva. It is celebrated in every luni-solar month of Hindu calendar in late winter and before the arrival of spring once a year that marks Maha Shivaratri which means "the great night of Shiva". Generally, it falls on the month of February. The word Shivaratri is composed of two Nepali words 'Shiva' & 'Ratri', Shiva is the name of Hindu god & Ratri means night. Maha Shivaratri is considered as one of the most important festivals in Hinduism. It is observed by Hindus in India, Nepal, Mauritius & other various countries.
The festival holds a lot of significance in Hindu mythology & it is believed that those who observe the day with devotion & sincerity are forgiven of all their sins. There are many stories behind the celebration of Maha Shivaratri. According to one of the most popular legends, Shivaratri marks the wedding day of Lord Shiva & Parvati. Some people believe that on the night of Maha Shivaratri lord Shiva performed the "Tandava" the vigorous dance that is a source of creation, preservation & destruction. It is also believed that Lord Shiva protected the world from dangerous poison; therefore, to thank Lord Shiva for protecting the world people started celebrating the day as Maha Shivaratri.
As the major festival in Hinduism, Maha Shivaratri marks a remembrance of "overcoming darkness & ignorance" in life and the world. It is celebrated by Hindus all around the world by chanting prayers, fasting, doing yoga & mediating on ethics such as self-restraint, honesty, forgiveness & discovery of Lord Shiva. The celebration includes maintaining a "jagaran", an all-night vigil & prayers.
In the context of Nepal, Maha Shivaratri is a national holiday & celebrated widely in temples all over the country, but especially in the Pashupatinath temple which is considered the protector of Kathmandu valley & Nepal. Thousands of devotes & sadhu from India & Nepal visit the temple on the day of festival & set the tent on the temple premises. On Maha Shivaratri, married woman pray for the well-being of their husband while unmarried woman prays for a husband like the Lord Shiva. In the afternoon, an official programme is organized by Nepalese Army in Tundikhel to celebrate the festival. Unlike most Hindu festival which takes place during the day, Maha Shivaratri is especially celebrated at night. There are all-night prayers representing Lord Shiva's ability to overcome darkness & ignorance. Many people spend the night around the temple, lighting sacred fires & singing praises to Lord Shiva. Mostly it rains on the day of Shivaratri in Nepal. It can be a mere coincidence or power of Lord Shiva.