Maha Shivaratri; the literal translation of “the great night of Shiva” is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated in Nepal as well as India annually in the reverence of Lord Shiva. Although, there is shivaratri every month in Hindu calendar, this particular day is especially meaningful because it is believed that Lord Shiva had performed his cosmic dance called ‘Tandav Nritya’ on this day. Celebrated on the 13th night/14th day of lunar month of Hindu calendar, Falgun (Feb or Mar), Maha Shivaratri is also remarked as the day of marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvati.
The devotees of Lord Shiva celebrate the festival in Shiva temples all over Nepal. However, Pashupatinath Temple, Nepal’s oldest temple beholds a special recognition. A ritual bath is given to the Shiva Lingam with milk, sour milk, ghee, butter and dung, chants mantras, perform poojas, offers foods and fruits to Shiva on this auspicious day. Maha Shivaratri is celebrated in night unlike other Hindu festivals. This festival is very special to females and on this day married women observe fast for well being of their husbands while unmarried pray for a husband like Lord Shiva. Pashupatinath Temple will be crowded on this day with the Hindu devotees from Nepal and India. Different types of naked Sadhus covered with ashes can be seen around smoking weeds blessing the devotees. There is a belief that smoking weed on this particular day is divine gift of Lord Shiva.