Maha Shivaratri is one of the biggest Hindu festival celebrated in India and Nepal every year. The festival of Shivaratri is celebrated in reverence of Lord Shiva (Great God), the Hindu god of “transformer” or “destroyer”. The festival of Maha Shivaratri is generally celebrated on the month of February or March according to Gregorian calendar. This festival is celebrated by worshiping lord Shiva and offering him Bel Patra (Beal) which is considered as his favorite plant followed by night long stay (Jagram) near a fire place (Dhuni). Devotees chant “Om Namah Shivaya” (ॐ नमः शिवाय) a mantra, dedicated to Lord Shiva. In Nepal, thousand of devotees celebrate Shivaratri by offering their prayers to Lord Shiva at Pashupatinath temple (world heritage site). There is a huge festival at Pashupatinath with thousand of people rushing to the temple standing in queue for hours to offer their prayers to the supreme god.
Legend behind Shivaratri
There are various legend behind the celebration of Shivaratri. This day is celebrated as the day of marriage of Lord Shiva and Shakti. Another legends suggest that the day of Shivaratri is favorite day of Lord Shiva and is celebrate to acknowledge his greatness among Hindu gods. Shivaratri is also marked as the day when lord Shiva performs his favorite dance Tandav. Another legend has it that during great churning of sea (Samudra manthan), a poison (Kalakut bish) was produced along with Amrit (liquid for immortality). This poison was set to destroy the world when Lord Shiva consumed this poison and kept it on his throat by his Yogic powers. His throat turned blue in this process and hence he is also called as Nilkantha (blue throated). To calm himself down from the effect of this poison, Lord Shiva went to the mountains where he created Lake Gosaikunda (frozen lake) by his Trisul (lord Shiva’s weapon). This lake is now located at Langtang region of Nepal. The day of Shivaratri is celebrated to acknowledge the effort of Lord Shiva to save all of humanity.
Some other name of Lord Shiva are Trilokinath (Lord of the three realms), Devendra (chief of the gods), Trilochan (three eyed), Har, Rudra, Shambhu, Shankar, Maheshwar, Mahesh, Mahadev, Nilkantha.