Maha Shivaratri is an annual festival dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and is particularly important in the Shaivism tradition of Hinduism. Unlike most Hindu festivals which are celebrated during the day, the Maha Shivaratri is celebrated at night.
Furthermore, unlike most Hindu festivals which include expression of cultural revelry, the Maha Shivaratri is a solemn event notable for its introspective focus, fasting, meditation on Shiva, self study, social harmony and an all night vigil at Shiva temples.
The festival is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Maagha. There are various legends associated with the Shivaratri celebrations. One of the belief has it that after the
Earth was devastation, Goddess Parvati pleaded to Lord Shiva to save the planet from all evils. Delighted with her prayers, Lord Shiva decided to save the world on a condition that the
people of the Earth would have to remember and serve him with commitment and passion. This is why it is known as Maha Shivaratri.
According to another popular belief, it is the night when Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati got married. Many young girls pray to the god for seeking a husband like Bholenath.
This year the festival is on February 13, 2018.
Shivaratri 2019 is on March 4th, Monday
Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 4th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of March - March in English Calendar.
So here's our list of the cities where you can experience Shivaratri at its best:-
1. Lingaraj Temple, Odisha
The Lingaraja temple is the largest temple in Bhubaneswar. The central tower of the temple is 180 ft (55 m) tall.
The temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga Architecture and culminating the medieval stages of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.
Shivaratri festival is the major festival celebrated in the temple and event during 2012 witnessed 200,000 visitors.
The temple compound is not open to non-Hindus, but there is a viewing platform beside the wall offering a good view of the main exteriors.
2. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Since Varanasi is considered the city of Lord Shiva, Mahashivaratri festival holds immense importance here.
In Varanasi, people visit nearby temples of Shiva and offer prayers in large numbers.
The prayers and worship continue late into the night.
3. Haridwar and Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Mahashivratri 2016 will be celebrated on a large scale as always all across India.
If you are in north India, celebrations in Haridwar and Rishikesh are not to be missed.
4. Mandi, Himachal Pradesh
The Mandi Shivaratri fair is held as per Hindu calendar every year on the Krishna paksha 13th day/13th night (breaking fast/'vrata' on 14th after sunrise) of the waning moon in the month of Phalguna that corresponds to February.
The festival’s popularity is widespread and hence is known as an international festival.
In view of the large number of gods and goddesses that are invited to the festival from its 81 temples, Mandi town has the title of 'Varanasi of the Hills'
5. Srikalahasti and Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
Besides being globally famous of the Tirupathi Balaji Temple, Andhra Pradesh is equally popular for being home to other ancient temples.
Among the many early monuments found in AP, the Srisailam Mallikarjuna Swamy and Srikalahasti temples find a special mention.
6. Guwahati and Sibsagar, Assam
This year, to make this event more attractive, Shivaratri shall be celebrated in a larger way involving artists from within and outside the country and for the same, the International Shiva Festival 2018 has been organised from February 13-15.
Renowned artists from the USA and Japan have already been invited to participate in the event and perform Indian classical-numbers during the three day festival.
Moreover performers from other parts of the country, and artists from different parts of the state will also become a part of this grand event.
7. Khajuraho and Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
The Maha Shivratri Festival held in Khajuraho is an elaborate one.
The 2.5 meters high Lingam of the Kandariya Mahadeo Temple is dressed up as a bridegroom, with white and saffron dhotis, and surmounted by an enormous conical, silver paper crown.