The Hindu Holy Festival Maha Shivaratri is one of the most well-known Hindu celebrations dedicated to Lord Shiva. Every year, the ceremony is held with great excitement and devotion.
Shivratri is a Nepalese festival that celebrates triumph, honesty, and forgiveness. Nepal is home to some of the best and most important Shiva shrines, which devout worshippers vow to visit at least once in their lives.
It’s a genuinely magnificent celebration and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu sees a significant increase in pilgrims and Sadhus (holy sages) expressing their worship on this day.
Devotees all around the country also celebrate this festival by worshiping Lord Shiva at various temples, rivers, and ponds.
Maha Shivaratri: Its History and Significance:
The significance of Maha Shivaratri is described in several stories and ancient lores. According to folklore, this is the night when Shiva and Shakti come together.
It symbolizes the need of masculine and feminine forces in maintaining planetary equilibrium. According to another tale, Lord Shiva performed Tandava – a cosmic dance of ‘creation, preservation, and destruction’ — on this night. According to another, Maha Shivaratri commemorates Lord Shiva and Parvati’s wedding anniversary. As a result, families celebrate this occasion as a sacred bond.
This is the night, according to Hindu mythology, when Lord Shiva saved the gods and humanity from extinction. Gods and demons are said to have once churned the ocean together in order to get ambrosia. However, a pot of poison came from the depths.
Lord Shiva drank the poison and spared the world from destruction in the end. However, the poison lodged in Lord Shiva’s neck, turning him blue.
Celebrations of Shivratri in Nepal – Religious Cultures and Traditions:
The Pashupatinath Temple, Kathmandu:
On this auspicious day, thousands of devotees from all over the world visit to Shiva temples.
On the eve of Shivratri, more than a million pilgrims flock to Kathmandu’s Pashupatinath Temple, the world’s largest temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It is considered by Hindus to be one of the holiest sites. Tourists come from all over the world to see the strange sadhu babas worshiping to Lord Shiva in a meditative posture.
Pashupatinath is recognized as the protector and guardian of the Kathmandu Valley and Nepal as a whole.
Rituals and beliefs:
Mostly associated with the night, worshippers stay up all night chanting ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ and ‘Mahamritunjaya,’ praying for the victory of light over darkness, and doing special pujas.
They think that Lord Shiva will assist them in breaking harmful habits and making positive changes in their lives. Fasting is also practiced by devotees during this fortunate night and day.
Things to Do in Nepal During Maha Shivaratri:
Maha Shivaratri is widely observed in Nepal, particularly among Hindus, in various sections of the country. Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest Hindu sites, attracts pilgrims and Sadhus from all over Nepal and India.
Here’s a list of things you can do as a tourist in Pashupatinath Temple to enjoy Maha Shivaratri:
Observing the Shivaratri Vrat:
Fasting is known to cleanse the human body while also reducing mental unrest.
If you want to get a glimpse of Maha Shivaratri’s spiritual side, you should attempt fasting for a day.
The Shivaratri Vrat (or Shivaratri Fast) is observed by most followers to seek Lord Shiva’s blessings and to increase the sincerity of their vows.
The position of the constellations on Maha Shivaratri night is regarded particularly favourable for meditation.
As a result, you could try staying up all night meditating on Shivaratri. This is the ideal day in the calendar year to meditate for those who cannot do so throughout the year.
Attend Sandhya Aarati:
Sandhya Aarati is an auspicious rite performed on the eastern side of Pashupatinath Temple, on the banks of the Bagmati River.
Every evening, three temple priests perform this sacred ceremony. The ambiance of this rite on Maha Shivaratri, on the other hand, is out of this world.
Hundreds of spectators congregate around the podium to watch the ceremony. Chanting mantras, singing hymns, lighting oil candles, and playing classical music are all part of the ceremony.
You can take a stroll around the temple and join this auspicious ritual to feel completely at ease.
Witness the Sadhus:
Thousands of sadhus and babas gather in the Pashupatinath temple region on the eve of Maha Shivaratri.
If you take a tour around the temple, you’re likely to see sadhus and baba with ash-streaked faces and matted dreadlocks smoking marijuana-laced cigarettes. The highly regarded Naga Babas can also be seen in several regions around the temple (The Naked Sadhus). By far the most intriguing Shaivite sadhus are Naga Babas.
These sadhus take celibacy vows and live in the Himalayas’ freezing weather without shelter. The fundamental requirements of life are all that matters to these sadhus. As a result, they strip down to their underwear and worship Lord Shiva.
- To get access to the temple, you may have to wait in a lengthy line for hours. Keep in mind that the temple may have multiple entrances with shorter waits. It is important that you learn about the many points of entrance and select one that is appropriate for you.
- Avoid approaching the sadhus too closely as this may disturb them. There have been instances in which they have thrown ashes into crowds. It’s best to keep a safe distance of at least a few feet.
- You must understand that Shivratri attracts large people, which can occasionally create a chaotic scene. If you’re traveling in a group, take care of your possessions and stick close. If you misplace something, go to the temple’s lost & found section.
- If you get lost or misplace a fellow traveler, you can use the temple speakers to call out for them. You can also request assistance from a police officer.
- When touring the Pashupatinath Temple, bring modest money with you. You may want to purchase something from one of the many colorful markets that surround the temple grounds. Small notes can be extremely useful in such situations.
- If you want to photograph Sadhus, you must first obtain their permission. For the photographs, some of these ‘holy men’ may demand a little fee. Before you snap the picture, ask for permission, establish a fee, then hand over the money to clear up any misunderstandings.
- In public, do not buy or smoke marijuana. Although it is usual to witness individuals purchasing and using marijuana on the grounds of Pashupatinath Temple, it is still illegal.