Today, March 4, 2019 is Shiva Ratri in Nepal. Shiva Ratri or Mahashivaratri, is the day on which Shiva devotees stay up all night and light fire. They worship the god, eat delicacies related to the god and visit Shiva temples. In Kathmandu, Pashupati temple is flooded with devotees.
On the day it usually rains. The astrologers give various views on why it rains on the day. According to an astrologer the 11th month of the year, Falgun, Aquarius (Kumbha) is the 11th sunshine. That is a pitcher full of water – indicating a lot of rain in the month.
There is a story –
Once a hunter told a deer that he would kill it for his food. The deer told that it had a family wanted to say goodbye. The hunter accepted the deer’s request.
While the hunter was waiting for the deer to arrive, it started raining. He climbed a Bilva tree and sat on a branch. He plucked leaves of the tree to pass his time. The rain and the leaves of the Bilva tree dropped and fell on a Shiva Linga that happened to be located beside the tree trunk. The rain made the hunter shiver – “Siu! Siu!”.
It sounded like “Shiv! Shiv!”. Lord Shiva heard the hunter and was pleased by the offering of Bilva leaves. Shiva was happy and saved the hunter from all the sin he had committed.
Shivaratri in the day in 11th luni-solar month of the Hindu calendar, on the month’s 13th night/14th day. It falls in late winter (February/March, or phalgun) and before the arrival of Summer. Maha Shivaratri which means “the Great Night of Shiva”.
The celebration includes maintaining a “jaagaran”, an all-night vigil and prayers, because Shaiva Hindus mark this night as “overcoming darkness and ignorance” in one’s life and the world through Shiva. Offerings of fruits, leaves, sweets and milk to Shiva are made, some perform all-day fasting with vedic or tantric worship of Shiva, and some perform meditative Yoga. In Shiva temples, “Om Namah Shivaya”, the sacred mantra of Shiva, is chanted throughout the day.
Maha Shivaratri is celebrated over three or ten days based on the Hindu luni-solar calendar.