Festival - Shivaratri: Must See India
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Shivaratri or Maha Shivaratri is a Hindu festival that is celebrated on the 13th or the 14th day of the Maagha or Phalguna month in the Hindu calendar each year. The festival is celebrated by offering Bilva leaves to Lord Shiva during the Krishna Paksha followed by observing a fast all day long and an all night vigil. As per discipleship and scriptural traditions, the penances are performed during Shivaratri, in order to gain boons. People meditate and perform different Asanas in Yoga to achieve summum bonum swiftly and steadily in life. The International Mandi Shivratri Fair is held every year to celebrate this festival.

According to the Hindu mythology a hunter picked out bilva leaves from a tree and kept throwing them down unknowingly on a Shiva lingam all through the night.

The next morning he was blessed by Lord Shiva and since that day he gave up meat and spent his entire life doing good deeds. Hence, Hindus do not consume meat, offer bilva leaves to the lingam on Shivaratri and keep a fast throughout the festival to please Lord Shiva.

During the Samudra Manthan by the demons and the Gods, a poison emerged out of the ocean. The poison was so toxic that it could have wiped out the entire creation on the planet. At this point, Lord Vishnu advised the Gods to approach Lord Shiva and request him to consume the poison. Pleased by their prayers, he drank all the poison. However, it was so intense that his throat became blue; to cool the poisonous effect, Moon God placed a snake around Lord Shiva’s neck. Thus, the Lord is also known as Nilakantha, which means “one with the blue throat”.

It is said that there is a natural powerful upsurge of energy in the human system during this festival.


On the day of Shivaratri, only bilva leaves and cold water is offered to the Shiva lingam. Other offerings as per the Hindu tradition are Panchamruta, which is made of ghee, curd, milk, honey and sugar; these offerings symbolize sustenance. Milk, vermilion and consecrated rice are also applied to the lingam on this day. Many people chant the Rudram using the Rudraksha rosary.

Tourist Essential

Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu, Nepal is one of the most revered shrines of Lord Shiva and has the largest gathering of people on Shivaratri. Tourists can find many naked Sadhus outside the temple offering blessings and marijuana to worshippers and tourists. Worshippers have Tripundra on their heads that means three stripes drawn on their heads from holy ash; these three stripes symbolize penance, purity and spiritual knowledge and also represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva.

This festival is mostly celebrated at a large scale in temples throughout Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.


by Kapil