The night filled with burning firewoods. The thousands of devotees making pilgrimage to his shrines and temples. The chants. The colorful clothed Sadhu Babas. All that and then some, all for the celebration of the “Great Night of Lord Shiva”. The Maha Shivaratri is a major festival.This is not only in Nepal, but the neighboring India and other people following the path of Hinduism.
Occurring near the time of the Spring Solstice, when the stars in the entire northern hemisphere are said to be in optimum position for raising a person’s spiritual energy. And the day when Shiva’s principles are said to be the most active. This is the night where he’s said to perform the heavenly dance. The dance of creation, preservation and destruction. i.e. the Tandav dance.
The fourteenth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Magh, is a national holiday in the Nepalese calendar. Pilgrims from all over the country and beyond make their visit to the Pasupatinath Temple. It lies at the banks of the Bagmati River in Kathmandu. This is one of the holiest shrines of the Hinduism faith, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, well at least in his Pasupatinath form. The shrine has been historically considered as the Guardian and protector of the valley.
The temple premises also hosts an annual celebration of the occasion. The area is cleaned up and a sort of a fair or mela is set up in and around the temple premise. There are other such arrangements on other temples and shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva all over the country too. With holy rituals being performed all over. Various classical music and dances are performed in the night. But the highlight of the whole festivity is the availability of Marijuana which can be consumed freely inside the Pasupatinath premise. The herb is sold at a cheaper price in and around the temple complex by the sadhu babas.
What is done during Maha Shivaratri?
There are many major traditions that are carried out during the Maha Shivaratri. One of the major and widely done being the married women praying for the well-being of their husband. The unmarried ones praying for a husband like Lord Shiva himself, who is considered to be an ideal husband so, you know wishful thinking.
The day is also a day when people fast, maybe for the aforementioned reasons or maybe other reasons as well. But they fast and sing hymns & praises of the Lord, in this case Lord Shiva. The temples are decorated with lights and other colorful stuffs. The people offer prayers, which could last all night, to the Shiva Lingam in hopes and beliefs of good luck and prosperity. Wood apple leaves, cold water and milk are offered to the Shiva Lingam, the things believed to be his favorites.
Another note about the occasion is that it occurs in the spring season. This is good time of the year to visit Nepal. The auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri is a bonus too, but it is an opportunity to see the country at one of its finest hours. The festive mood in the air make the day and the greenery present around these temple and shrine areas seem a lot more important and joyful.