Maha ShivaratriMaha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivaratri or Sivaratri (Night of Shiva) is a Hindu festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha of the month Maagha (as per Shalivahana) or Phalguna (as per Vikrama) in the Hindu Calendar. The most significant practices on this day are offerings of Bael (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, fasting and all night long vigil. In North India and Nepal many people consume bhang lassi, which they believe is lord Shiva's favorite drink.
LegendsThere are many stories associated with Shivaratri and its origins
During the samudra manthan by the Gods and demons, haalaa-hala, a poison came out of the ocean.It was so toxic, that its effect would have wiped out the entire creation. At this juncture, as per the advice of Vishnu, the gods approached Mahadev and prayed to him to protect their lives by consuming this poison. Pleased with their prayers, out of compassion for living beings, Lord Shiva drank this poison and held it in his throat by binding it with a snake. The throat became blue due to the poison (Thus Lord Shiva is also know as Neelakantha) and Shiva remained unharmed. This shows that shiva is also the protector. In another story, it is said that the whole world was once facing destruction and the Goddess Parvati worshiped her husband Shiva to save it. She prayed for the Jivas (living souls) remaining in space like particles of gold dust in a lump of wax during that long period of pralaya (deluge) night, should, upon becaming active again and in the enjoyment of their short day and night, have his blessings, but only if they worshiped him just as she did then. Her prayer was accordingly granted. Parvati named the night for the worship of Iswara by mortals Maha-Sivaratri, or the great night of Siva, since pralaya is brought about by him. This period is really his night from the great night or pralaya which was the cause for the origin of this Sivaratri
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