The Great night of Shiva
As an important festival, Mahashivaratri has personal as well as cultural and spiritual significance in people’s life
The day of Shivaratri is different for different people. Some take it as a day to fulfil a religious purpose, whereas some as the day to smoke and have fun around a bonfire. And I enjoy this very special day as a holiday.
During my childhood, we used to celebrate it by collecting money from people — we used to make passing vehicles stop with the help of the rope held across the road and ask for money from passersby; we divided that money later among friends. Those were the golden days. Fasting and going around the Pashupatinath Temple with friends is quite a pleasure now. No matter how we celebrate (everyone has their own ways), we must make sure that none of our acts affects other’s festive mood. — Shradha Neupane, Boudha Mahankal
When I was in my teenage years, I used to roam around Pashupatinath area throughout the night with my friends. I was fascinated by the colourful
decorative lights all around the temple area and the illumination of green lights on the trees of Mrigasthali’s (deer park) surroundings.
Now Shivaratri means a chilly day for me where my family and relatives gather, worship the idol of Lord Shiva together, and chit chat for the rest of the day. This holy festival is important for me as I can see my near and dear ones on this day and indulge in never ending chat with them. Also, worshiping the idol of Lord Shiva along with my family gives a lot of positive energy and vibes.
— Nabin Kadariya, Gaurighat, Kathmandu
Shivaratri for me means a time to know and explore my inner self while feeling connected to the universe through my devotion to Lord Shiva. It is this cosmic connection and rejuvenation of our soul through devotion, fasting and worship that is the most important aspect of Shivaratri celebration. Furthermore, it is also a time to rejoice and get connected to several distant and extended family members as they like visiting the big city from distant rural homes and joining millions others to enjoy the mass gathering and celebrations together. Overall, it is a grand opportunity to get connected to the community, enjoy togetherness and also purification of the soul to work again with new courage and dedication.
— Saikat Kumar Basu
I am the kind of person who believes that making our self clean and pure from both inside and outside is the real offering to god. The best devotion that one can give god is by helping others as the Shiva himself took the halahal/ kalkut (poison) to save the world. For me Shivaratri or any festival means making all the efforts to make myself a good human being which I believe is the best dedication to god that anyone can make. We can find that the ones who go to temple for darshan, indeed are making gossips about others in a bad way; I have had witnessed it.
— Aashish Adhikari, Pokhara
I celebrate Shivaratri with my family as it is one of the biggest festivals of the Hindu community. Belonging to a typical Nepali family we have the tradition of observing a fast on that day where we simply just don’t consume any grains and feed on other edibles. We celebrate the occasion so that we can celebrate it as the day of Lord Shiva instead of making it a day of consuming toxic substances. According to religious beliefs, Lord Shiva inhales everything and still was fine but this doesn’t mean we too have to practice it in a socially unaccepted manner. One can celebrate it even by not using ganja, bhang or ghotta. Cultural aspects are important.
Shivaratri has always been an important day of the year to me since my childhood. It’s not because we get to smoke weed or blast sugarcane — my family has never smoked tobacco or drunk alcoholic drinks in the name of festival. On the late evening of Shivaratri my dad goes in some nearby dhuni, and brings hot sugarcane. Then the real festival in our family starts when our dad cuts the sugarcane into small pieces and serves those to us. My mother has never queued at the temple, instead she worships Lord Shiva in the small prayer room of our house. This simplicity of our family give satisfaction and happiness to all of us. If anything is done by all of our hearts we enjoy it, there is no need to inhale smoke and toxins in the name of fun and festival. Having faith in our doings is all that we need to make us a great devotee.
— Spandan Pokhrel
Lord Shiva is an enigma: the creator and the destroyer, the passionate lover of Parvati, the celibate ascetic of the Himalayas. During my childhood, I was fascinated by the aura surrounding Lord Shiva and the great festival of Shivaratri. Reminiscent of nights spent on campfire and baked potatoes with neighbourhood’s friends, listening to exaggerated ghost stories from elders, bring back nostalgic memories. Fire — the source of warmth and protection, the bringer of death and destruction — itself is a symbol of Shiva.
Shivaratri is one of my favourite festivals which I love to celebrate the most. The practice of bombarding the sugarcane with friends on the night of Shivaratri is the most enjoyable moment. Thus religion binds individuals with humanity and decent personality. Shivaratri being a celebration for prosperity, health, wealth of family, progress in the life, influence our devotion and faith in god.
— Deepa Adhikari, Baidam-6, Pokhara
I don’t find importance of Shivaratri in my life. For me this event is rather a harmful one for the self and the nation. One consumes alcohol, bhang and dhaturo which affect one’s mind and make the festival indecent. Sadhu babas come to celebrate the festival here; some are naked sadhus who brings bad light to the UNESCO site and identity and culture of Nepal, and embarrass innocent ones. The bad practices give the festival a bad name.
— Tulip Gyawali, Minbhawan
For me, Shivaratri is a day to celebrate joyously and rejuvenate with friends. We were always taught to observe a fast and visit the temple nearby to impress Lord Shiva to get a husband like him. So, every year we celebrate it by visiting Pindeshwori Temple early in the morning, waiting for our turn in a long queue, capturing pictures, and chitchatting with friends. But some of my girlfriends are still reluctant to visit the temple in crowd for fear of being physically abused. This always saddens us but we always find a way to cheer up and get ready for another huge event on that day. Every year a programme ‘Vijayapur Saanjh’ is organised in Dharan by local people. It is a programme of dance and songs by local and national celebrities where we enjoy to the fullest.
— Prabina Bhattarai, Jhapa
This festival brings back a collection of memories when we were young — we used to gather with friends and smoke weed and stay up the whole night, so that we could remember them during our old days and smile.
There is great devotion of people towards the celebration of Mahashivaratri. On this day people visits different temple for worshipping; married female devotees take fast on this day for a happy and long married life while unmarried women hope to get good husbands. On this day there is a long queue for worshipping Lord Shiva. On the other hand, burning of pile of wood on the night of Shivaratri creates pollution. And sugarcane parts left after blasting, make the place dirty as well. Likewise the trend of being intoxicated with the intake of bhang, dhaturo and marijuana saying that it is the sacred food of Shivaratri is a bad habit which has wrong impact on the health of a person. Moreover, it disturbs peace of society and has negative impact on children’s mentality.
— Sandip Paudel, Pokhara
For me Shivaratri hasn’t been that special as people think it is. I guess I haven’t been to all those long queues during the festival. I also don’t believe in fasting those ladies do during such occasions. I haven’t done it and also don’t hope to do so. For the sake of mankind if I give up the evil and shower myself with goodness in my life, its more than celebrating it with those sugarcane that are heated on those blazing fire and finally hitting to the ground leaving environmental pollution. Consumption of intoxicants in the name of god is what we look forward to? My simple life takes me to a beautiful dreamland and goodness is what makes me wait for those boring days to pass and call for a new occasion I will celebrate to the fullest.
— Sneha Baral, Pokhara
Shivaratri is a day of huge blazes of fires all around giving sparks of light in the night time, people having long sugarcane in hand and trying to celebrate a festival together. Shivaratri, besides some activities in present days, has been the time for everyone to share happiness, excitements and feelings. Despite the dark part, it’s always good that those people who could have been tirelessly busy in day to day employment activities are giving time to enjoy moments with family. So, I regard Shivaratri as the time of celebration whether blasting of sugarcane or a get together ceremony for people’s affinity towards Lord Shiva. But as we know everything has its limitations, we can’t neglect that intoxication, extravagance and over fasting against health aren’t the enjoyment of Shivaratri.
— Prayash Paudel, Pokhara
Every festival that we observe reflects some legendary incidences that have spiritual connection. In the same perception, I think Mahashivaratri is also one of the grand festival celebrated by Hindus believing in several spiritual myth behind its origin. Now this festival also has its negative and positive sides like ever another thing does. The observances like fasting, yoga and meditation on ethics and virtues are some good aspects. In addition, this festival inspires people by giving a beautiful message that darkness and ignorance can be always overcome by positivity and delightfulness. It unites people and gives a another beautiful reason to celebrate and smile with beloved ones. But contrary to this people in the name of celebrating it are getting involved in immoral activities like excessive intake of weeds, bhang and other harmful substances which should not be done. People with no hesitation are doing so which negatively impact the upcoming generation and the faith and purity of the festival.
— Rheecha Bhattarai
I celebrate Shivaratri by bursting hot sugarcane with my family. It is believed that if a girl will take fast on this day then she will get a gentle and caring husband like Shiva. So, for the better life partner girl takes fast and stay in a long line to worship god. Married women also don’t eat anything for the long life of their husbands. In my opinion, by continuing these rituals neither a woman has a bright future or their husband. I didn’t follow this ritual because it is not good to spoil your life for an unknown man and we should never be those women who need men but be women that men need. In other hand, I like this festival because it keeps our family members together.
— Kriti Baral, Masbar
Shivaratri is one of the greatest festivals of Hindus where people from all over the world visit Nepal during this time to witness the moment and to have darshan. The environment of Kathmandu Valley especially the Pashupatinath area in Shivaratri is absolutely different — very much lively, colourful and full of energy. Long queue of devotees around the temple, their devotion and faith, youths getting attracted towards smoking weed and buying it from the babas who come from our neighbouring country India around the temple area are some of the attractions of Shivaratri.
I definitely celebrate Shivaratri and for me it holds fond memories of my childhood — so this is one of the festivals which I love to celebrate and I enjoy a lot. I still remember when I was a child my parents used to take me to Pashupatinath Temple a day before Shivaratri and also during the evening time for darshan. The environment and vibe which Pashupatinath area held was spectacular.
In the recent times, if we go to Pashupatinath Temple for darshan or not we watch the live telecast, my mother do puja at home. If she gets time she also visits the temple where sometimes I accompany her. At home, she cooks some yummy vegetarian foods including rice pudding that we offer to god at first and eat after doing arati. Also in every Shivaratri we make a bonfire along with our neighbours; we all gather together, gossip and have fun by eating roasted potato.
— Tejaswi Pahari, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur
Even though I have never celebrated this festival, I feel happy while seeing others celebrating it with full of zest. I have observed it — I have seen children and elders enjoying this festival by bursting the sugarcane in the blazing fire. Women and unmarried women fast on the devotion of the Lord Shiva. Women fast for the long life of their husband and unmarried girls for the achievement of better life partner. In my view it has got some bad impacts along with positive impacts. I think that consuming intoxicants like weed is a bad culture originated from this festival. Boys and sages consume it and lose their consciousness. So Shivaratri hasn’t become a favourable and nice festival to continue because of its bad culture.
I celebrate this festival with full of joy by taking a fast, worshipping Lord Shiva and participating in different kinds of bhajan singing with religious groups. This festival strengthens our social unity every year, growing stronger every year. In this festival, people from different casts go to Shiva temples for darshan and offer milk and nectars. We enjoy nectars, steamed sugarcane and other delicious delicacies as well. Throughout the day, we listen to holy speeches and enjoy bhajan. This festival has always helped us to strengthen our unity and to preserve our culture and tradition. So this is one of the important festivals for me.
— Tribikram Ghimire, Chitwan
Shivaratri is the best and most awaited festive that brings blast of blessings and happiness to each and every face in my country. Yes, I celebrate Shivaratri and no doubt I am fond of celebrating such festivals in which I can be away from my relatives and enjoy with my friends. Some people often take it just as a holiday or simple type of festival but for me it is more than a face to face blessing from gods. The best part of that day that regularly strikes my mind is heating of sugarcane in huge bundle of woods and striking it here and there wildly without any kind of restrictions. As it comes once a year, I can let my soul free from stressful studious manner and enjoy my day. I always want to see people with a big smile on their face and in that same special day hardworking farmers can earn some livelihood which may not be directly important to me but also makes me feel happy. In this way Shivaratri can be known to be the best festival that brings brightness not only to particular individual but to the whole nation.
— Safal Subedi, Pokhara
I frequently remember the popular bhajan about Shiva — Vasma daler shambhu timile jeewanko rup dikhayau. Lord Shiva had tried to tell the human kind that the ultimate destination of a man is the ashes. But the people started coating ashes on their forehead and body as Shiva did. There is a saying do as your teacher says not as he does. But we just try to copy the teachers’ doing and style, and we simply forget the things that we were told to do. Otherwise the gurus, sages, prophets and many great souls from all the time have already taught us everything that the human being need for their goodness. The ignorance is still in our mind. So I believe we need to focus on the root of the teaching of Shiva on this holy Mahashivaratri.
— Anil Maharjan
Mahashivaratri has got both religious and cultural significance in my life. On this day revered Lord Shiva conquered all his enemies and it is a day of
victory of god over devils. It is the momentous day for people like me who are on the spiritual path. With the belief of overcoming the fear of negativity and
getting new vision to life, I celebrate Mahashivaratri with positive thoughts and respect to Lord Shiva for his dedication and passion to the peaceful world. I think he is the God of all gods. Thus, I celebrate this significant festival by making myself holy for the day and night of Mahashivaratri and visit Pashupatinath Temple and worship him there.
— Mahesh Sharma
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