Maha Shivratri, which translates to ‘the Great Night of Shiva’, is an annual festival celebrated by Hindus in the glory of Lord Shiva—one of the most revered Gods of the religion.
The annual event is marked by the gathering of sadhus, chanting and revelry. These Shiva mantras help in cleansing the mind, asking for protection and safety, for good health and peaceful life. Lord Shiva is the power behind all the holy mantras. Shiva is the lord of "immortality". The very utterance of his name rejuvenates the mind, body and soul.
Devotees keep fasts, participate in song-and-dance rituals, celebrate throughout the night, and partake of bhaang thandai, believed to be a favourite of the Lord Shiva. Although a major festival in India, Maha Shivratri is also celebrated around the world as Lord Shiva’s devotees reside all over.
The festivities across different states draw in hordes of travellers from other countries, who come to witness the magnificence of the occasion. There are 12 Jyotirlingas (holy shrines) in India, all of which celebrate the festival in a grand fashion. Visit these five places in India to experience Maha Shivratri at its best.
During Maha Shivratri, thousands of devotees gather at the Ganga Talao (Grand Bassin), a lake that is considered sacred. The preparations begin weeks in advance as people of all ages follow a strict vegetarian diet, after which they start their journey to the lake. Many devotees also prefer to dress in white as a symbol of purity.