Shiva – the God of infinite vision, the conqueror of death and the great destroyer is believed to be the supreme lord of the holy trinity of Hinduism. The 13th/14th day of the dark half of the Phalguna (Feburary/March) marks the great night of Shiva which is celebrated as Mahashivratri. It is an overnight celebration of the devotees of Lord Shiva spent by chanting his mantras all night.
There are several versions of the origin of this festival. The one that is widely believed is that this day marks the marriage of Shiva and Parvati. While on one hand some believe that this is the day when Shiva saved the world from poison during the Samudramanthan (churning of the ocean), the others accredit it as the day when Lord Brahma was punished by Lord Shiva for lying. Indefinite of the reason, it can be seen that this festival is not only celebrated across India but also in Nepal and parts of West Indies.
Mahashivratri is one such festival whose celebration illuminates not only the day but night as well. The devotees organize a series of ‘jaagrans’ and spend the rest of their day performing abhishekam (sacred bath) of the shivlinga by offering milk, honey and curd to worship the three eyed god. In company with the ‘Om Namah Shivaya’ chants, the devotees also perform an all-day fasting.
Mahashivratri is considered as the most auspicious of the 12 Shivratris commemorated to proclaim the glory of the blue-throated god. Mahashivratri is not just a ceremony of honoring the divine power but of meditation, concentration and awareness of the universe.

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