Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri :

Maha Shivratri is celebrated on the Krishna Paksha Chaturdashi of Hindu calendar month Maagha which falls in February or March as per the Gregorian calendar. Alternate common spellings include Sivaratri, Shivaratri, Sivarathri, and Shivarathri. It marks the convergence of Shiva and Shakti.
 
The festival is principally celebrated by offerings of Bael or golden apple or Bilva/Vilvam leaves to Lord Shiva, all-day fasting and an all-night-long vigil (jagarana). All through the day, devotees chant "Om Namah Shivaya", a sacred Panchakshara mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva. In accordance with scriptural and discipleship traditions, penances are performed in order to gain boons in the practice of Yoga and meditation, in order to reach life's highest good steadily and swiftly.
 
Hindus celebrate Maha Shivratri, because – according to Vedic Literatures – there is a legend associated with it called Neelkanta. After drinking the poison, Shiva went to the Himalayas to meditate. Realizing that the nectar of immortality was found, the asuras tried to steal it from the devas, as they wanted to become more powerful than the devas in order to be able to destroy them. After a “series of divine interventions,” the devas emerged as the victors and received the gift of immortality. By drinking the poison, Shiva saved the world from destruction from the effects of poison. He kept this poison in his neck not allowing it to go down into the body, resulting in his neck turning blue. Hence, why he is also called "Neelkantha", meaning blue-necked.