Shivratri falls on the darkest night of the year and devout Hindus spent all night awake, chanting hymns in praise of Lord Shiva for spiritual awakening. It is believed that observance of Shivratri cleanses bad thoughts or overcomes darkness and ignorance.
According to legend, Lord Shiva performs the ‘tandava’, a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. Indian spiritual leaders believe it was necessary to calm down the god, lest he destroy the universe. Therefore, devotees remain awake, providing soothing offerings like milk and honey and in some regions cannabis, locally called ‘bhang’.
Another mythological legend is that during the astronomical alignment of Maha Shivratri, Lord Shiva married his consort Parvati.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has joined the people of India in tweeting about “Maha Shivratri” today.
आप सभी को महाशिवरात्रि की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएं। बाबा भोलेनाथ के आशीर्वाद से सभी देशवासियों के जीवन में सुख, शांति, समृद्धि और सौभाग्य आए। ऊँ नम: शिवाय!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 21, 2020
For some bhakts who only see Lord Shiva as power & the trishul as a weapon, a little jnana might be in order! pic.twitter.com/O9rPCgQHxP— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) February 21, 2020
#Mahashivratri Good wishes to all! 🌼— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) February 21, 2020
On left: Temple at home in New Delhi on Herath (Shivratri) today. 🍁
On right: Celebrating Herath (Shivratri) in Colorado, USA today with relatives. 🌸
May Lord Shiva bless us all. Wishing for peace, happiness, good health and joy. pic.twitter.com/7lLNgRVRql
15 feet tall & eight faced ShivaLinga at Pashupatinath Temple, Mandsaur.— #NATIONALISM (@BeingNationali1) February 21, 2020
Dating back to 5th century, this is a must visit pilgrimage for Lord Shiva Devotees !!#हर_हर_महादेव 🔱#ॐ_नमः_शिवाय 🙏@LostTemple7 @ReclaimTemples#Mahashivratri 🚩 pic.twitter.com/LjtsnkfA7G
Maha Shivaratri, the great night of Shiva is being celebrated in Nepal today. Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu sees over a million people, including Sadhus, visit the holy shrine on this day. #destinationNepal #DiscoverNepal #visitNepal2020 #ShivaRatrihttps://t.co/DERa5UmGJ6 pic.twitter.com/VX51B0vBhC— Visit Nepal 2020 (@myholidaynepal) February 21, 2020
Hinduism calls Lord Shiva eternal. He is believed to be rising in the Himalayan Mount Kailash, which is now part of Tibet. Climbing Mount Kailash is legally prohibited because it is supposed to be the holy abode of Lord Shiva for a 21,000 year period, during which his meditation is not supposed to be disturbed.