Maha Shivaratri Festival
Maha Shivaratri Festival in Nepal is one of the most significant Hindu celebrations, where there are a lot of Hindus. This festival is a big deal in Hinduism because it signifies the completion of winter and the start of summer. It has a lot of meaning for the Hindu religious group called Shaivism, which worships Shiva as its main god.
Shiva is one of the most important gods, followed by Hindus. According to the Nepali calendar, Maha Shivaratri takes place during the 14th dark fortnight of Magha. This festival is known as a chance to get spiritual energy more freely since the stars in the northern hemisphere are at their closest point.
Around Kathmandu, there are a lot of temples and shrines where many people go to celebrate this festival. Pashupatinath is one of the holiest Hindu temples in Nepal. On Maha Shivaratri festival, millions of devotees and holy people gather at Pashupatinath temple to worship, do rituals, and do holy things.
On Maha Shivratri, people chant the spiritual mantra of Shiva, “Om Namah Shivaya,” all day long in Shiva temples. Puja ceremonies also take place at homes and temples. Because of the connection to Shiva’s “heavenly dance,” many Hindus get together for lively dance festivals.
Mahashivaratri is a ceremony that explains the Hindu universe as a whole. It gets rid of ignorance, shines the beam of knowledge, makes one conscious of the universe, brings spring after a cold, dry winter, and asks the highest power to notice the beings Lord Shiva made.
On an interesting side, today, weed is legalized by the government in the Pashupati area. A lot of Sadhus live in small huts for the time being. Most of them figure out how to burn wood. People see them busy getting weed ready to smoke. On that day, the government offered the weeds to the Sadhus.
Highlights of Maha Shivaratri
- Celebrate “the victory over darkness and ignorance” in one’s life and the world.
- Pashupatinath temple, the view of millions of people, visiting, fasting, singing devotional songs, and reciting famous tales of Lord Shiva.
- Spectacular music and dance performances.
- Street vendors selling various religious goods.
History and Significance of Maha Shivaratri
According to the Puranas, several stories and greats explain how the Shivratri festival started.
Maha Shivaratri: History
Poison Pot Emersion
One story says that throughout Samudra Manthan, poison came out of the ocean in a pot. All the Gods and Demons were afraid that this would destroy the whole world, so they ran to Lord Shiva for help.
Shiva drank all of the poison, but instead of swallowing it, he held it in his throat to not hurt the whole world. Because of this, his throat turns blue, which is why people also call him Neelakantha. Shivratri is honored as a time when Shiva saved the world.
Fight between Brahma and Vishnu
In the Shiv Purana, there is another story about Brahma and Vishnu. Once upon a time, Brahma and Vishnu argued about who was better. Other Gods were scared, so they ended up going to Lord Shiva, who asked him to stop the fighting. Shiva took the form of a huge fire that spread across the whole universe to show them that their fight was pointless.
When both Gods saw how big it was, they made the decision to find one end each to show who was better. So, Brahma turned himself into a swan and went up. On the other hand, Vishnu turned himself into Varaha and went down to the earth. But the fire has no end, and even though they looked for it for thousands of miles, they could not find it.
On his way up, Brahma saw a flower called a Ketaki. He asked Ketaki where she had come from, and she told him that she was an offering that had been put on top of the flaming section. Brahma could not determine the top limit, so he took the flower as proof and came.
This made Shiva show his true form and get angry. Brahma did not find the limit, so he lied about it. So, Shiva punished him for lying by making it so no one would worship him anymore.
Shiva first showed up as a Linga on the 14th day of the dark half of the month of Phalguna. Because of this, this day is especially lucky and is known as Maha Shivratri. It is thought that if you worship Shiva on this day, you will be happy and successful.
Anniversary of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
Another popular story says that Shiva gave Goddess Paravati, an incarnation of Shakti, a wish to marry him since her devotion moved him. After getting married, the goddess fasted for his health on a night when there was no moon. Nepali women still do this ritual and pray for their husband’s long life following Goddess Parvati.
Maha Shivaratri: Significance
The followers and devotees of Shiva do special puja and fast at Shiva temples all over the world. People offer milk to Shivaling and worship for moksha. Several devotees pray all night and chant mantras to praise Lord Shiva. Women praise god for being graced with a great husband and a healthy marriage. On this day, many temples hold fairs and cultural programs.
People also believe that Lord Shiva blesses with good luck to the individuals who do puja, fast, and pray to him.
Maha Shivaratri Festival in Nepal – The Celebration
Maha Shivaratri is different from festivals where people enjoy delicious foods, parties, etc. Instead, it encourages self-reflection and personal growth by letting go of everything that gets in the way of our success.
Devotees all over the world celebrate this happy day following the traditions and customs of their area. Here are some ways that followers of Shiva celebrate Maha Shivaratri:
- They fast and stay awake all night to think about spiritual things.
- They worship the Lord by going to Shiva temples and holy rivers.
- The people who worship Lord Shiva think about different morals, chant mantras, sing songs, and listen to his stories.
- To honor Lord Shiva, they participate in Rudra Puja or Mahashivratri Puja.
- People worship Shiva Lingam by giving milk, sandalwood paste, white flowers, Dhaturo, and Bel Patra, the leaves of the bel tree (a type of intoxicating plant).
- At the final moment of the Maha Shivratri puja, the devotees often offer clothes and food to the poor and those who need them.
Pashupatinath Temple During Shivaratri
Pashupatinath Temple, which is recognized as the sacred shrine of Lord Shiva, can be found in the eastern section of Kathmandu. It is situated on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River. Sadhus gather at the holy Pashupatinath Temple on the day before Maha Shivaratri Festival.
On the auspicious day of Maha Shivaratri Festival, thousands of Sadhus and hundreds of thousands of other Hindu devotees can be found gathering at Pashupatinath. The devotion to the deity at the temple begins as early as two in the morning when people gather there.
The Sadhus trek lengthy miles on foot, primarily from India, to visit Pashupatinath, which is one of the reasons why the Shivaratri festival is considered so significant. Most of them have their entire bodies colored with turmeric, red, or ash. They also have a Rudraksha garland wrapped around their necks and vividly colored ornaments on various parts of their body. The Sadhus draw a large crowd because most attending are typically high on hash and marijuana, both of which are provided to them by the government at no cost. They become the main point of attention for a large number of visitors. The government authority takes extra special care of these spiritual warriors, providing them with the appropriate food and even covering their travel expenses.
For the convenience of the devotees, bonfires are lighted, and meals are prepared and served to everyone in the Pashupatinath region. Almost a million people are expected to visit the region on this day. As a result, the Nepal Police, the Red Cross, the Medical, Emergency services, and public volunteers work together to manage the lines and address sanitation, safety, and security concerns.
Tips while visiting Pashupatinath during Maha Shivratri
- To get into the temple, you must wait in a long line for hours. Remember that there may be other ways to get into the temple with shorter lines. Find the back entrance to the Temple, you do not have to wait in a long line, and you can save a few hours.
- Do not approach the sadhus too closely, as this may disturb them. Incidents have occurred in which they have thrown ashes at crowds. Maintain at least a few feet of distance with them. If you want to take pictures with them, negotiate well.
- Take care of your belongings throughout your entire visit, as crowds can lead to unwanted situations. Remember to contact the lost & found department if you lose something.
- If anyone offers something sweet or smoothie kind of drink, stay away if you do not want to get drunk. The easiest way is to avoid the foods that random people offer to you.
Activities Guide for Visitors To Celebrate Shivaratri Festival in Nepal
Here are six suggestions for what to do in Pashupatinath on Maha Shivaratri Festival.
The best way to participate in the Maha Shivratri celebrations is to go to Pashupatinath Temple on Shivaratri or the days before. Holy men like Babas and Sadhus visit from all around the world. Some say they have special skills, and some even show up naked.
It is also a beautiful time to go to the temple because the surrounding is covered in millions of flowers. The bright colors of the marigolds and fabric on the temples are really beautiful.
Observe Maha Shivaratri Fasting
People believe that fasting cleanses the body of toxins and calms the mind. If you want to get a sense of the spiritual side of Maha Shivaratri, you might observe it for a day.
Most devotees do the Shivaratri Vrat, also called the Shivaratri Fast, to get Lord Shiva’s blessing and make their vows more serious.
Attend Sandhya Aarati
It involves passing an “aarti plate” or “aarati lamp,” and the priests’ group usually sings songs. The plate, lamp, or flame shows the power of the god. People believe that this is how the blessing gets to the devotee.
The ceremony takes place on the eastern bank of the Bagmati River, on the eastern part of Pashupatinath Temple. Every evening, three temple priests perform this sacred ceremony.
However, the ambiance of this Maha Shivaratri celebration is surreal. Hundreds of individuals gather all around the platform to watch the ceremony. The ceremony takes place by chanting mantras, lighting oil lamps, singing hymns, and playing classical music. You can experience absolute joy by walking inside the temple and attending this fortunate ritual.
Enjoy Free Foods
You will find free food stands on the other side of the river. But it takes work to get to. Before you can get to the free food stands, you must go through a long line of devotees.
If you make it to the other side, there will be food. There will be many stalls with different kinds of food and drinks. Enjoy the free food while experiencing different tastes.
People believe meditating on the night of Maha Shivaratri is particularly beneficial due to the way the stars’ alignment takes place in the sky. On Shivaratri, as a result, you should give meditation a shot by being awake the entire night.
This particular day in the calendar year is ideal for individuals who need help maintaining a consistent meditation practice throughout the year.
Observe the Sadhus
On the night before Maha Shivaratri, many sadhus and babas gather near the Pashupatinath temple. If you stroll around the temple, you will probably see these sadhus and baba with ash on their faces and matted dreadlocks smoking cigarettes with marijuana in them.
You can also see the highly regarded Naga Babas in some places around the temple (The Naked Sadhus). Naga Babas are the most interesting Shaivite sadhus by a long shot. These sadhus take oaths of celibacy and reside outside the Himalayas, which are cold and snowy. These sadhus are only concerned with the most basic things in life. So, they take off everything but their skin and pay tribute to Lord Shiva.
Maha Shivaratri Festival 2024 in Nepal
Pashupatinath is one of the most important Hindu temples which worships Lord Shiva. This temple dates back 2,000 years and is located on the holy Bagmati River in Nepal. The celebration of Maha Shivaratri highly takes place in Pashupatinath.
The festival of Maha Shivaratri has a festive air, with artists performing sitars and table drums, dancers in brilliant colors dancing beautifully around the temple, and street vendors selling various religious goods.
Even though the day starts young and the city is busy while it is still light, there is a long gun salute at the Tundikhel in the center of Kathmandu as the sun goes down. Oil lamps and fires start to light up the woods of Gorakhnath, the hill on the east side of the river.
The strange and dedicated behavior of the Sadhus becomes even more obvious as they dance naked in meditations. Do not plan on going to sleep early because things get loudest around midnight, with drums, flutes, mantras, smoky air, and a tribal vibe that might make you dance with a Sadhu.
A Kathmandu tour during Maha Shivaratri Festival 2024 will be an excellent way to witness the festival up close. This can also be a perfect extended trip for your next Himalayan holiday. If you want to be a part of this celebration, Nepal Holiday can help you set up a festival tour in Nepal that fits your time and interests. Please feel free to get in touch with us. The celebration of the festival Maha Shivaratri 2024 date is on 8 March. The tour will begin at your hotel and be a guided day trip.
For further information or booking, WhatsApp: +977-9843356769 or Email: [email protected]
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can we sleep in Maha Shivaratri Festival?
No, people do not sleep while fasting during Shivratri. On the night of Maha Shivratri, a person who follows Shiva with all their heart does sadhana or meditation, which has a saying that it senses peace and calm within themselves.
Why do girls fast during the Maha Shivaratri festival?
People regard Lord Shiva as the ideal husband, and unmarried girls and ladies worship him on this blessed day by fasting to obtain a husband like him. According to Shiv Purana, if a devotee observes the Shivaratri fast with sincerity, unadulterated devotion, and love, he will obtain the heavenly favor of Lord Shiva.
Where do people in Nepal visit during Shivaratri?
During this auspicious occasion, worshippers come from all over Nepal and the world to pray at the Pashupatinath Temple to seek Lord Shiva’s blessings and pay their respects.
Does Nepal have a holiday for Shivaratri?
Yes, The night of Maha Shivaratri is the day of the holiday celebration. It is a day off for most people in the general population. Thus, schools and businesses announced the closure on this day.