Celebrated with a lot of vigour in India and Nepal, this Hindu Festival is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is during the Maagha month on a full moon night that Shivratri is celebrated. There are lots of customs and practices followed during this auspicious festival where Lord Shiva is glorified.
Shivratri is one of the most important festivals of the Hindu religion. There are many stories behind this celebration. Chants and acclaim are sung by remembering Lord Shiva and generally during the night, people fast. Bedecked with colourful decorations and lights, the Hindu temples look beautiful during this time. The whole night, devotees offer prayers to the Shiva Lingam. Cold water, wood-apple leaves and milk is offered at the Shiva Lingam as this is the most preferred by Lord Shiva. This brings good fortune to the people. Ujjain is the place where the grandest celebration takes place as it is believed that this is Lord Shivas home.
Getting blessings from Lord Shiva, is the main purpose of this festival. It is generally celebrated during the day and night by keeping a fast. Entertainment like in the other festivals is not common during Shivratri. It is a means to clear the ignorance and bring happiness into one’s life.
The Vrat or fasting continues the whole day and night. Phalhar (fruits) is a unique meal devotees consume due to the long nature of the fasting. After getting up very early during the day and freshening up, people go to the temples and offer prayers and chant “Om Namah Shivaya’.
The custom is to immerse the Shiva Linga with honey and milk on the day of the festival. This is supposed to bring in good fortune. It is accompanied by singing and chanting so that Lord Shiva is invoked.
During this festival, one gets to see processions very closely where devotees look forward to see Lord Shiva. It is truly an auspicious day and celebrated with much enthusiasm.