Every year, Hindus celebrate the great festival of Maha Shivratri with religious enthusiasm and devotion to Lord Shiva, one of the three divine deities of the Hindu Trinity. The literal meaning of Shivratri is “The Great Night of Lord Shiva”, and it is celebrated in the dark fortnight or Krishna Paksha at the 13th night or 14th day of the month Maagha or Phalguna (month of February or March according to the English calendar). Hindus celebrate this festival by worshipping Shivling in order to make Lord Shiva happy.
According to the most common legend of Maha Shivratri, the great mythical churning of the ocean known as Samudra Manthan was conducted by gods and demons in order to obtain nectar that would make them immortal. During this process, a pot of highly poisonous substances emerged. Everyone was afraid to even touch it as it had the potential to destroy the whole world. This is when all of them decided to seek help from Lord Shiva and he readily accepted the challenge of drinking this poison and thus saving the world from its immense destructive
Every year at Maha Shivratri, hundreds of devotees congregate at the Kashi Vishwanath temple in order to perform puja and offer prayers to the traditional Shivling. Devotees keep fast throughout the day and night in order to show their devotion to Shiva. They also take a holy bath in the river Ganga, a symbol of purity, before sunrise in order to purify their bodies and souls. After this spiritual bath, they don freshly cleaned clothes and join the crowds of other devotees to pray for their wishes.
It is evident that people of all genders come together to express their love and appreciation for Lord Shiva in various temples. The temple is filled with sounds of bells and chants of “Shankarji ki Jai” and “Mahadevji ki Jai”. Devotees also show their devotion by taking five rounds around the Shivalingam and offering water or milk as a sign of respect. All these traditions come together to show the collective faith in Lord Shiva, including his power to fulfil dreams and desires.