Maha Shivaratri in Nepal in 2020

Maha Shivaratri in Nepal in 2020
Nepalese Shiva temple. Image by Ms Sarah Welch
  How long until Maha Shivaratri?
This holiday next takes place in 152 days.
  Dates of Maha Shivaratri in Nepal
2021 Nepal Thu, Mar 11 National Holiday
2020 Nepal Fri, Feb 21 National Holiday
2019 Nepal Mon, Mar 4 National Holiday
2018 Nepal Wed, Feb 14 National Holiday
  Summary
According to Hindu mythology, Shivaratri symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva.
  Maha Shivaratri in other countries
Maha Shivaratri internationally

When is Maha Shivratri?

Maha Shivaratri is a famous Hindu festival celebrated each year in reverence of Lord Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and regeneration.

A Shivaratri is celebrated on the 13th night and 14th day of every lunar month. The Shivaratri in the month of Falgun (Phalguna) - the last month of Hindu calendar - is Maha Shivaratri which means "the Great Night of Shiva". It takes place just before the arrival of Spring, usually in February or March in the Western calendar.

It is celebrated across India and is a holiday in most states and it is also a public holiday in Mauritius and Nepal.

What is Maha Shivratri?

Maha Shivaratri is the night when Shiva is said to have performed the Tandava Nritya, or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. According to believers, this saved the world from destruction. Hindu scholars say Maha Shivaratri was the day when Shiva drank poisonous negativity to protect the world.

Maha Shivratri is observed to mark a remembrance of 'overcoming darkness and ignorance' in life and the world. Unlike most festivals, is celebrated at night and is a solemn event.

Shivaratri is also when Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva married again.

The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael (Bel Tree) leaves to Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all-night-long vigil.

On Maha Shivratri, "Om Namah Shivaya", the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted through the day in Shiva temples. Special Puja is held at homes and temples.

The Lingam

Shiva is worshiped in the form of a lingam ( Sanskrit for "sign" or "distinguishing symbol") - a pillar often placed on a receptacle that represents female creative energy. Together it represents the union of organs and the totality of creation. The use of the lingam as a symbol for Shiva was introduced after the Aryan immigration into India, having been taken from aboriginal worship.

According to Hindu legend, Brahma and Vishnu were busy arguing over which among the three was the most powerful god. On hearing this, Shiva manifested in the form of a huge, flaming lingam. It was agreed with Brahma and Vishnu that whoever was first to find the end of the blazing column of fire would be considered the greatest of the Hindu gods. Vishnu, in the form of a boar, started looking for the bottom of the lingam, while Brahma, in the form of a swan, started looking for the top. After years of searching, neither had found an end, and they both had to acknowledge Shiva as the most powerful.

Flowers, incense and other offerings are made, while all through the day the devotees chant the sacred Panchakshara mantra dedicated to Lord "Om Namah Shivaya".

Bel Tree

It is believed that Lord Shiva is fond of the Bel tree, also known as the bilwa or bilva tree, and its leaves and fruit still play a main role in his worship.

Huge gatherings take place in temples all over India, though the biggest celebration is held in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, where Lord Shiva is believed to have stayed. Special celebrations are held at Shiva shrines in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh.

All castes (divisions) of Hindu society participate in the worship of Shiva. The ceremonies surrounding Shivratri are particularly popular with Hindu women, especially those wishing to become pregnant.

Maha Shivaratri Customs in Nepal

On Maha Shivaratri, over a million Hindus will make a pilgrimage to the Pashupatinath Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Katmandu, Nepal, for worship, feasting, and ritual bathing in the holy Bagmati River.

One of the major attractions of the festival in Pashupatinath is the visiting sadhus (sages) from Nepal and India. According to Pashupati Area Development Trust, around 7,000 sages from various clans will be in the temple.

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