Maha Shivaratri generally known as Shivaratri is a religious festival honored to Lord Shiva, one of the major God of Hindus.
Maha Shivaratri is one of the major festivals of Nepal and literally means “Night of the Shiva”. It is celebrated on the 14th day of the dark night of the Magha month, according to Hindu lunar calendar. It is believed that on this day, the stars in the Northern Hemisphere are at most optimum positions to help raise a person’s spiritual energy. It is also believed that the Shiva theory is most active on this day of the year. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated marking the union of Shiva and Shakti. Maha Shivaratri also celebrates the night when Lord Shiva performed the “Tandav” the cosmic dance.
Shiva Ratri Festival in Pashupatinath
Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims visit Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, one of the holiest shrines of the Hindus. Pashupatinath is also considered the Guardian of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal. Devotees chant “Om Namah Shivay” and “Mahamritunjaya” all night praying for light over darkness.
Highlights of Shivaratri in Nepal
Tourists are seen enjoying the atmosphere with curiosity, as colorful, dread lock hair and naked sadhus are seen meditating, posing for photographs and interacting with disciple. Special turnout camps are set in the courtyards of the temples. Children are seen asking for donations with passersby on this day preparing for holy meal and bonfire in celebration of the special night. Among most Hindu festivals which take place during the day, Maha Shivaratri is celebrated during night. There are all night vigils and prayers representing Shiva’s ability to overcome darkness and ignorance. Many people spend the night around the temple, lighting sacred bonfires, singing holly song to Lord Shiva and keeping vigil to welcome his descent to Earth. The official festivity begins at midnight with priests offering items to Lord Shiva in the temple.
Worship & Tradition
People take holly bath in the sacred Bagmati River, carrying water in cupped palms to offer it to the stone stele which is the symbol of Lord Shiva. In the morning, sacred texts are chanted until noon when people begin singing sacred songs. Some of the finest musicians and singers come to Nepal to sing holly song of Shiva.
It is common to see yogis or sadhus sitting naked, covered with ash or smoking marijuana during the festival. Although marijuana is illegal in Nepal, it is allowed for religious rituals during the festival. It is believed that after Shiva’s consort died, he came to the forests near the temple, smeared with ash, wearing a serpent and draped in a tiger skin. While there, he smoked marijuana which grows wild in the forests. It will be very interesting to observe and learn this unique Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal.
How to Join in the Shivaratri Festival
To join in the Shivaratri festival, you can go to the Pashupatinath temple area. There will be two types of boundary for the visitors. Non Hindus are not allowed to enter in the core temple area. However you can explore around the outer core.
In 2019, Shivaratri festival fall on the 4 March 2019. Come and Join with us on the auspicious festival. The festival tour can be include during trekking in Nepal or any kinds of tour packages during the time.