MAHA SHIVARATRI – Great Night of Shiva

Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival celebrated annually in reverence of the god Shiva. It is the day Shiva was married to the goddess Parvati. The Maha Shivaratri festival, also popularly known as ‘Shivaratri’ or ‘Great Night of Shiva’, marks the convergence of Shiva and Shakti

The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael leaves to Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-vigil (jagaran). All through the day, devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya“, the sacred mantra of Shiva. Penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life’s highest good steadily and swiftly. 

In Nepal, millions of Hindus attend Shivaratri together from different part of the world at the famous Pashupatinath Temple. Thousands of devotees also attend Mahasivaratri at the famous Shiva Shakti Peetham of Nepal.

Photographs of the Maha Shivaratri celebrations 2015

A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) paints coloured paste onto his face during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) paints coloured paste onto his face during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Hindu woman devotee lights earthen lamps as she prays at the Aap Shambhu Lord Shiva temple during "Shivaratri" festival in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Feb.17, 2015. "Shivaratri", or the night of Shiva, is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

A Hindu woman devotee lights earthen lamps as she prays at the Aap Shambhu Lord Shiva temple during “Shivaratri” festival in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Feb.17, 2015. “Shivaratri”, or the night of Shiva, is dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of death and destruction. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Devotees stand in a queue for darshan at Lord Lingaraj temple on the occasion of Maha Shivratri in Bhubaneswar. (PTI)

Devotees stand in a queue for darshan at Lord Lingaraj temple on the occasion of Maha Shivratri in Bhubaneswar. (PTI)

Devotees worshiping Lord Shiva on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri festival at a temple in Allahabad. (PTI)

Devotees worshiping Lord Shiva on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri festival at a temple in Allahabad. (PTI)

A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) smokes marijuana from a clay pipe as a holy offering for Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction, during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Nepalese Hindu Sadhu (holy man) smokes marijuana from a clay pipe as a holy offering for Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of creation and destruction, during the Maha Shivaratri festival in Kathmandu on February 17, 2015. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering prayers and fasting. Hundreds of sadhus have arrived in Pashupatinath to take part in the event. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

Hindu holy man, or sadhu, looks into the mirror as he applies ashes on his face at the premises of Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu February 16, 2015. Hindu holy men from Nepal and India come to this temple to take part in the Maha Shivaratri festival. Celebrated by Hindu devotees all over the world, Shivaratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and holy men mark the occasion by praying, smoking marijuana or smearing their bodies with ashes. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar (NEPAL - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Hindu holy man, or sadhu, looks into the mirror as he applies ashes on his face at the premises of Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu February 16, 2015. Hindu holy men from Nepal and India come to this temple to take part in the Maha Shivaratri festival. Celebrated by Hindu devotees all over the world, Shivaratri is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and holy men mark the occasion by praying, smoking marijuana or smearing their bodies with ashes. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar (NEPAL – Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

A Sadhu poses near the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu on Febuary 16, 2015, on the eve of the Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Sadhu poses near the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu on Febuary 16, 2015, on the eve of the Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Sadhu poses near the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu on Febuary 16, 2015, on the eve of the Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

A Sadhu poses near the Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu on Febuary 16, 2015, on the eve of the Hindu festival Maha Shivaratri. Hindus mark the Maha Shivratri festival by offering special prayers and fasting. AFP PHOTO / PRAKASH MATHEMA

Naga Sadhus take out a procession on the occasion of Maha Shivratri festival in Varanasi. (PTI)

Naga Sadhus take out a procession on the occasion of Maha Shivratri festival in Varanasi. (PTI)

Devotees trying to board a train ahead of Maha Shivratri in Varanasi. (PTI)

Devotees trying to board a train ahead of Maha Shivratri in Varanasi. (PTI)

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By Jura Nanuk

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