KATHMANDU — Hindu devotees across the country on Tuesday are celebrating the great festival of Mahashivaratri by worshiping Lord Shiva at various rivers, ponds and temples since early this morning.
While Shivratri comes once every month, Maha Shivratri or the ‘great night of Shiva’ comes once in a year, just before the arrival of Spring season in the month of February or March. Its date keeps changing every year as it is related to the lunar calendar.
Shivaratri, thought to be the day Lord Shiva was born, is one of the four nights called Kaalratri, Moharatri, Sukharatri and Shivaratri, and is regarded as one of the greatest festivals in the holy scriptures of the Hindus—the Puranas.
Shivratri, is observed as the ‘night of Shiva’, the Hindu god, who is referred as ‘the destroyer of evil’. This special day is not for celebrations and merry-making but to worship Lord Shiva, introspect and become meditative.
This year, Maha Shivratri will be celebrated on February 13, Tuesday, and will be extended till February 14. This day is celebrated on the lunar month of Falgun and is believed to instill faith in those destined to live in trouble.
The Skanda Purana, another holy text of the Hindus, also mentions the significance of the Shivaratri.
The religious belief is that if one offers milk, Dhaturo (a kind of intoxicating plant) and ‘Belpatra’ to Lord Shiva and observes a night-long fasting, he/she will receive heavenly blessings.
The festival which is regarded as a national festival consists of ‘warming’ Lord Shiva in the belief that the Lord also feels cold on this day and people organize bonfires at public squares, houses, temples and shrines and perform prayers to please Lord Shiva.
Four kinds of worships including Mahadip, Akhandadip, Lakshya Batti and Dipotsav as well as an offering of Belpatra will be performed in four phases tonight, while classical dances are performed at the Kailashkut and Kirateswor Music Ashram.
In Kathmandu, thousands of devotees from within and outside the country, predominantly from India, throng the Pashupatinath temple from early morning and queue up for hours for the darshan of Lord Shiva.